As many as seven people have died and up to another 20 were injured when a deranged employee returned to work at his Kansas turf care company and opened fire on his colleagues, authorities said.
The gunman has been shot dead after his rampage Thursday afternoon at Excel Industries in tiny Hesston, some 35 miles north of Wichita, Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said. A total of of four to seven people, including the gunman, were killed, Walton said.
Cedric Ford, 38, has been identified as the shooter, according to KWCH-TV. According to his Facebook page, he worked as a painter at Excel Industries. He posted several photos and videos online of himself armed with weapons. One shows him shooting an AK-47 in a field, while another shows him sitting in the driver’s seat of a car, a bottle of booze in his lap and a semi-automatic handgun sitting on his thigh.
There were at least four or five crime scenes associated with the rampage, Walton said. Ford shot at least two people in cars as he drove towards Excel, then shot another person in a parking lot outside the lawn mowing manufacturer before bursting into the building and opening fire inside sometime before 5 p.m. local time, Walton said.
The gunman was shot dead by a police officer, Walton said.
Video from the scene show employees milling about outside a warehouse-like building as emergency responders rush to the scene.
A total of six patients have been taken to the Via Christi Clinic in Wichita, according to a reporter at KWCH-TV. Two of those victims are in serious condition and another is in fair condition.
One witness told KWCH-TV he heard “repeatedly gunfire, over and over and over again” from the north end of the building. The witness, Carl Mitchell, said he was coming back from break when the shooting broke out inside the building.
Another witness told the news station she was driving on a street near Excel when she saw a man, believed to be the shooter, open fire from a truck and shoot someone in a passing car. That shooting incident is thought to have happened before the gunfire broke out at the Hesston business.
A third witness, who told KWCH his name is Matthew, said he was in the parking lot on break when he saw the shooter pull up, jump out of his truck and shoot somebody in the parking before running into the building with his gun.
A woman whose car was shot at by the gunman said he was wielding a “big gun, like a machine gun,” she told KWCH.
The hulking, heavily tattooed gunman has several pictures of him with children on his Facebook page. It’s unclear if they were his children. As recently as January 16, he posted on Facebook that he was “feeling fed up.” And in October, Ford wrote: “It’s so hurtful when you have no one to talk to about your problems.”
Records show Ford has a long criminal record in Florida, where he’s been convicted of burglary, fleeing police, grand theft and unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is responding to the scene.
Hesston, a city of less than 4,000 people, is about 35 miles north of Wichita in central Kansas.
The company manufactures Hustler and Big Dog mowing equipment and employs 500 people, according to a 2013 profile in The Wichita Eagle.