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Crime and Courts

Harvey Co. Sheriff: Protective Order May Have Triggered Deadly Shooting Spree

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The protection from abuse order filed in Sedgwick County District Court.

The investigation into what led to a deadly shooting spree in Harvey County Thursday is focusing on a protective order issued to the gunman.

The sheriff identified the shooter as Cedric Ford during a briefing Friday morning.

Authorities say Ford wounded three people before storming into the Excel Industries plant in Hesston and shooting 14 others, killing three of them. A police officer killed Ford during a shootout.

Authorities say Ford was armed with an assault rifle and a pistol when he began the shooting rampage in Newton and then drove to Excel in Hesston, where he worked second shift.

The attack lasted less than 30 minutes.

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Credit Abigail Wilson / KMUW
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KMUW/File photo
Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton speaks to the media Friday morning.

Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton says his office served Ford a protection from abuse order about 90 minutes before the attacks began. The order was filed in Sedgwick County District Court on February 5th.

Disrict Attorney Marc Bennett says because the order was a civil case and not a crime, officers didn’t check Cedric Ford for weapons.

"The Sheriff’s Office is not going to then say, 'OK, I’m going to pat you down and I want to go back to your house now and search for guns,'” Bennett says. "You’d have to have probable cause and a warrant to do those things, and that’s not part of this."

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Attorney General Derek Schmidt met with law enforcement officials Friday in Hesston.

Brownback announced that Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder was the one who went into Excel and shot Ford. Sheriff Walton called Schroeder a “tremendous hero” because more than 200 people were still in the plant at the time of the attack.

The governor called the shooting at the Excel Industries lawnmower parts plant a terrible tragedy. He also praised the law enforcement community that responded.

More than 100 federal, state and local law enforcement agents are working the case.

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Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.