Sheriff: Cop who killed Kansas gunman a 'hero'

2016-02-26 21:21
EMS workers gather at a staging area in Hesston in the American state of Kansas.(Fernando Salazar/The Wichita Eagle, via AP)

EMS workers gather at a staging area in Hesston in the American state of Kansas.(Fernando Salazar/The Wichita Eagle, via AP)

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Hesston - A man who wounded three people before storming into the central Kansas factory where he worked and shooting 15 others, killing three of them, had just been served a protection from abuse order that likely triggered the attack, a sheriff says.

The attack at the Excel Industries lawnmower parts plant in Hesston on Thursday ended when a police officer killed the attacker during a gunfire exchange, said Harvey County Sheriff T Walton. He described the officer on Friday as a "tremendous hero" because there were still 200 or 300 other people in the factory and that the "shooter wasn't done by any means.

"Had that Hesston officer not done what he did, this would be a whole lot more tragic," Walton said. He declined to identify the suspect or the officer but said the suspect's name would be released later.

The shooting came less than a week after authorities say a man opened fire at several locations in the Kalamazoo, Michigan, area, leaving six people dead and two severely wounded. Authorities haven't disclosed a possible motive in those attacks.

Local authorities

Eleven of the people wounded in Thursday's attack were taken to two Wichita hospitals, where one was in critical condition, five were in serious condition and five were in fair condition on Friday morning, hospital officials said. The others were taken to a Newton hospital.

Walton said his office served the suspect with the protection from abuse order at around 15:30, which was about 90 minutes before the first shooting happened. He said such orders are usually filed because there's some type of violence in a relationship, but he didn't disclose the nature of the relationship in question.

While driving to the factory, the gunman shot a man on the street in the nearby town of Newton, striking him in the shoulder. A short time later, he shot someone else in the leg at an intersection.

"The shooter proceeded north to Excel Industries in Hesston, where one person was shot in the parking lot before he opened fire inside the building," the department said in a release. "He was seen entering the building with an assault-style long gun."

Erin McDaniel, a spokesperson for the nearby city of Newton, said the suspect was known to local authorities. She wouldn't elaborate.

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