The man suspected of killing three people at the Kansas lawnmower factory where he worked had been served a protection order 90 minutes before his shooting spree, which also wounded 14 people, authorities said on Friday.
The suspect, identified as Cedric Ford, was armed with a .223-caliber assault-style rifle and a pistol as he fired randomly at coworkers over 26 minutes on Thursday. He was killed in an exchange of gunfire with the first police officer to reach the scene.
“The man was not going to stop shooting,” Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said at a news conference on Friday. “The only reason he stopped shooting is because that officer stopped the shooter.”
Walton described the officer who killed Ford as a hero, saying there was many as 300 people in the Excel Industries factory where the worst of the rampage took place as employees were beginning the day’s second shift.
Ford had been served a protection from abuse order earlier Thursday at the factory, which may have triggered the bloodshed, authorities said. He left the factory after being served but began shooting about 90 minutes later.
Walton did not specify who had sought the protection order but said it was not an employee of the plant. He said Ford appeared upset but not outraged by the order.
Protection from abuse orders usually are issued on behalf of a person in an intimate relationship or who lives in the same household as the subject, and has been physically or sexually abused.
Ford had been jailed a couple of times before, Walton said.
The shooting began with Ford firing out of his vehicle as he drove through two cities back to the factory, Walton has said. He stole one victim’s car, went to Excel Industries and shot someone in the parking lot before going inside.
“Excel family is deeply saddened by the horrific event that occurred yesterday,” said Paul Mullet, CEO of Excel Industries, in a statement.
Law enforcement officials in Hesston, a town of about 3,800 people about 35 miles north of Wichita, were checking to see if the firearms were legally purchased.
All 14 wounded victims remain at hospitals and at least five were initially listed in critical condition.
The attack follows a mass shooting in Michigan last weekend, when a driver for car-hailing service Uber killed six people.
The number of mass shootings in the United States has elevated gun control as a campaign issue in the November U.S. presidential election.