WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A police chief who rushed without backup into a Kansas lawnmower factory and fatally shot a gunman who had killed three people and wounded 14 more insisted Tuesday that it was no act of heroism and that any officer would have acted as he did.
In his first public statement since the Feb. 25 shootings, Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder said he was thankful for Excel Industries employees who provided valuable information to help him locate the gunman inside the facility.
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About 300 people were working second shift at the Hesston plant when Cedric L. Ford — apparently upset about a former girlfriend’s protection from abuse order that had been served hours earlier — barged in armed with an assault-type rifle and a pistol and opened fire.
Schroeder, one of a force of just six full-time officers in the town 30 miles north of Wichita, entered the plant alone to stop him.
“I feel God has prepared me throughout my life and career for these events. I am not a hero,” Schroeder said. “I know hundreds of law enforcement officers, each one of them with a different skill set, personality and abilities. I can’t think of one officer who wouldn’t have done the same thing I did.”
After the shootings, Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton called Schroeder a “tremendous hero” and said Ford would have undoubtedly shot more people had the police chief not halted his rampage.
Schroeder cited stories he has heard about employees helping each other to safety and providing first aid to injured co-workers.
Ford shot two people en route to the factory and another 15 at the plant, three of whom died.
The police chief offered his condolences to the families of the victims and thanked the first responders and crisis management personnel who responded to the shooting.
“The citizens of Hesston, Newton and Harvey County are resilient. No one had to ask for an extra measure of patience with each other; they just gave it,” he said. “Thank you for the support and caring you have shown me and my family. I look forward to returning to a leadership role in the community as we all begin to heal.”
The city said Schroeder would not be talking to the media. The Associated Press left a phone message for Walton on Tuesday requesting an update on the investigation.
The plant, which has been closed since the shooting, is expected to resume operations on Thursday.
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