Last week on Thursday, February 25th, there was a mass shooting that took place in Hesston, Kansas at Excel Industries, a lawn care equipment manufacturing plant. Three people were killed, and 14 others were injured. Witnesses said that the suspect would have likely kept shooting until he was out of rounds, but he was shot and killed by a Harvey County deputy.
It seems like an incident that would get a good bit of coverage from the national media, especially considering that the murderer – a convicted felon – used an AK-47-style semi-automatic rifle and a Glock .40-caliber handgun. But there was barely a blip in the national media about this mass shooting.
That’s likely because of the shooter’s race. Thirty-eight-year-old Cedric Ford happened to be a black man.
His Excel Industries co-workers regarded him as a completely normal guy, a friend, and a family man. One such co-worker Jarrell remarked to CNN:
“He was just a normal guy to me. He had a family he loved. He was into cars… He was someone I felt I could talk to … and communicate with as I would a family member.”
But Cedric had a criminal record that dated back to 2000 when he was arrested in his previous hometown of Miami for car break-ins. In 2004, he was arrested for parole violations. The Sheriff in Harvey County – where Cedric lived and where his workplace was located – told CNN, “All I can say is he’s been in my jail a couple of times before.”
So, where did he get his two firearms if he was a convicted felon? And why did he go on shooting spree?
He had an ex-girlfriend who filed a restraining order against him the same day he shot a bunch of people at work. In the petition for the protection order, his ex-girlfriend described him as an “alcoholic, violent, depressed” who was “in desperate need of medical (and) psychological help!” She described one incident where he “became physical by him pushing me then grabbing me.” She continued:
“He placed me in a choke hold from behind — I couldn’t (breathe). He then got me to (the) ground while choking me — finally releasing me.”
That particular incident happened February 5th.
But he had obtained the two weapons from another ex-girlfriend Sarah Hopkins who told the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that she knew that Cedric was a convicted felon, but that he threatened her if she didn’t give him the two guns. Hopkins had apparently taken the two guns with her in August of last year when she moved out of the home they shared and had pawned off the semi-automatic rifle and handgun. When Cedric had threatened her about getting the guns, she retrieved them from the pawnshop and gave them to him. According to the pawnshop, Hopkins retrieved the semi-automatic rifle on February 5th, incidentally the same day that Cedric’s previous ex-girlfriend said he physically abused her.
When Cedric Ford was served the restraining order, an hour and a half later, the mass shooting began. Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said that the restraining order was the “trigger.”