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Hero police chief stopped Kansas shooter, governor says

Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder was first on the scene and fatally shot the man who killed three and injured 14 on Thursday.
FBI agents look at evidence along Hesston Road outside Excel Industries in Hesston, Kan., Feb. 26, 2016. (Photo by Orlin Wagner/AP)
FBI agents look at evidence along Hesston Road outside Excel Industries in Hesston, Kan., Feb. 26, 2016.

The police officer who fatally shot the man who killed three and injured 14 in Kansas, stopping him from shedding more blood, was identified Friday as the chief of police in the town where the gunman was finally stopped.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said Friday called Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder a hero. He said Schroeder was the police officer who was first on the scene at Excel Industries, where Cedric Larry Ford culminated his 26-minute spree, which began at about 5 p.m. (6 p.m. ET).

Brownback said Schroeder didn't wait for backup before entering the Excel building.

"He went right in and did a heroic duty and service," Brownback said.

Authorities on Friday identified those killed as Renee Benjamin, 30, Joshua Higbee, 30, and Brian Sadowsky.

Fifteen of the victims, including all three who died, were shot at Excel Industries — a lawn mower factory in Hesston where Ford worked.

The shootings spanned three locations in two towns, about 30 miles north of Wichita.

RELATED: Cedric Larry Ford kills 3, injures 14 in Kansas shooting spree

Ford, 38, was armed with an assault rifle and semi-automatic pistol as he began randomly shooting from a vehicle just before 5 p.m., a half hour after Ford failed to return to work from a break, officials said.

Ford shot a man in the shoulder and another person in the leg in shootings minutes apart in Newton and then went to Excel where he shot a person in the parking lot and then entered the workplace and opened fire, the Harvey County Sheriff's Office said.

Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton, when asked about a possible motive, said a deputy had served Ford a protection from abuse order at Excel around 3:30 p.m., around 90 minutes before the shooting began.

It was the second such order he had received after failing to show up in court, Walton said.

According to the paperwork, which was obtained by NBC News, a woman who filed the order Feb. 5 told the court that she was in a relationship with him and they were living together, but he was "moving out."

She described an incident that day that became heated after a verbal argument. She wrote that he pushed and grabbed her. Ford had a history of domestic violence, the sheriff's office said.

The sheriff said it's possible the court order incited the workplace carnage.

"We always say it won't happen here. Well, here it is. It happened here," Walton told NBC News. "We'll get through it. It's a good community of good, strong people."

There were around 200 to 300 people at the facility when the shooting occurred. Walton said the gunman intended to kill more before he was fatally shot by the officer, identified by Brownback as Schroeder

"In my mind this officer saved a whole lot of lives because this shooter wasn't done," Walton said.

President Barack Obama expressed his condolences for the victims Friday, but said the country cannot become numb to gun violence.

The "real tragedy is the degree to which this has become routine," he told reporters. "Once a week we have these shootings and it doesn't dominate the news, and that's got to change."

Gary Emry, the city administrator of Hesston, said Obama had called him and Hesston Mayor David Kauffman on Friday.

One of the injured at Excel Industries was Dennis Britton, who was shot in the right buttock and suffered a fractured right femur, according to his father.

Dennis Britton Sr., also an Excel employee, told NBC News his son "made eye contact with [the shooter] when he walked away," and that he "heard a clap and hit the floor" after being shot.

"It's rough, I'm not going to lie to you," Britton said. "He was like all the rest of them there. He's a family man. He's got three kids and one on the way."

A vigil for the victims was set to be held at the Excel building on Friday evening. 

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