Q13 FOX Season of Giving

Sheriff: 4 dead, including gunman, after rampage in small Kansas town

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HESSTON, Kan.  —  A gunman killed three people during shootings that ended at a lawn care company in Kansas Thursday when he was shot dead by police, authorities said.

An additional 14 people were injured — 10 of whom are in critical condition at local hospitals.

Authorities first got calls about a man shooting from a vehicle in Newton about 5 p.m., the Harvey County Sheriff’s Office said.

Minutes later, there were reports of a shooting at Excel Industries, which makes lawn care equipment in Hesston, Kansas.

The shooter, an employee at Excel, was killed by authorities, Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton told reporters. His death brings the total number of fatalities from the incident to four.

“Everybody says it can’t happen here,” Walton said. “And here we are. It happened here.”

Authorities did not release the name of the shooter or a motive for the shooting.

It’s not yet clear why the gunman opened fire, but Walton said terrorism is not a factor.

“There was some things that triggered this particular individual,” he said, declining to get into details.

Dispatchers got the first call at 4:57 p.m. local time with reports of a male in a gray Dodge Charger opening fire, according to Walton.

A man was shot in the shoulder, the sheriff’s office said in a news release. Another person was reportedly shot in the leg.

Minutes later, authorities received multiple reports of shots fired from Excel.

Walton estimated that 150 people were working at Excel at the time of the shooting.

Matt Gerald told The Hesston Record newspaper that he was outside on break when he saw the shooter.

“I saw the shooter get out of his truck, shoot someone down and go into the building,” Gerald said. “I was flabbergasted. I was at a loss for words.”

The gunman had a long gun and a pistol, according to Walton. He said the victims appear to have been randomly targeted.

A witness identified as Dylan said he was unloading pallets in the back of the building at the time of the shooting.

“We heard a pop, pop, and we thought it was just metal falling on the ground, and then the doors opened, people started screaming, coming out,” he told CNN affiliate KNSW. “We really didn’t know what was going on.”

As he spoke, Dylan rubbed his hands, which had blood on them. He said he’d tried to help a man who’d been shot.

Authorities were on the scene at 5:06 p.m. local time — minutes after the first reports came in, according to a timeline shown to reporters.

The first officer to arrive on the scene was alone, and single-handedly took down the shooter.

“Even though he took fire, he went inside of that place and saved multiple, multiple lives,” Walton said. “[He’s] a hero, as far as I’m concerned.”

Walton said authorities would release the name of the officer who shot the suspect Friday.

No law enforcement official was injured.

Gov. Sam Brownback offered his condolences to the people of Hesston, which is 35 miles north of Wichita.

“This will take some time to work through,” Walton said.

“This is just a horrible incident that’s happened here,” the sheriff said. “It’s going to be a lot of sad people before this is all over.”


Hesston is a community of about 3,700 residents about 35 miles north of Wichita.