Multiple people were killed during a series of shootings in Kansas on Thursday. The alleged shooter, an employee of Excel Industries in Hesston, is dead, and did not take his own life, Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said. T
hree to four people are dead and up to 20 people are hurt, Walton said during a news conference Thursday. One shooting took place in Newton, Kansas, with someone in a truck suffering a gunshot wound to the shoulder, Walton said. Another person was shot in the leg at another site, Walton said. One person was shot in the parking lot of the Excel site and the remainder inside the factory, Walton said.
The sheriff told reporters that authorities first received a report of a man having been shot while driving. Second, a person was reported shot in the leg. Third, a report came in about a shooting in the parking lot of Excel. Finally, an active shooter was reported inside the workplace, Walton said.
Gov. Sam Brownback offered his condolences to the people of Hesston, which is 35 miles north of Wichita. Officials said seven victims from the shooting were being treated at Via Chrisiti St. Francis hospital in Wichita. Four patients are being treated at Newton Medical Center, and six at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita.
The shooting comes less than a week after authorities say a man opened fire at several locations in Kalamazoo, Michigan, leaving six people dead and two severely wounded. Hesston is a community of about 3,700 residents about 35 miles north of Wichita.
Excel Industries was awarded the Governor’s Exporter of the Year award in 2013 from the Kansas Department of Commerce. The company manufactures Hustler and Big Dog mowing equipment and was founded in Hesston in 1960. Walton said the FBI and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation had been called in to assist.
A factory employee, Marty Pierce, told KAKE-TV, a local ABC affiliate, that the gunman entered the plant and “started spraying everyone” with bullets in the assembly area near the paint department. “I thought it was a fire or an explosion. I didn’t know someone was shooting, but then our robot operator decided to go look down the hallway and he got shot,” Mr. Pierce said.
He said he fled the building and sought refuge in the parking lot while shots continued to ring out in the plant. “It’s a big trial and tribulation that’s going on,” he said. Excel Industries is a family-owned business that was founded in 1960, according to the Kansas City Star. The company is a leading maker of turf-care products and distributes its mowing products through Hustler Turf Equipment and BIgDog Mower product lines, according to the company’s website.