Investigators said Friday that the gunman who opened fire at a Kansas factory where he worked received a court order 90 minutes before the rampage and obtained the two weapons used in the attack from a friend.
Sarah Hopkins, 28, of Newton, Kan., is charged with one count of knowingly transferring a firearm to a convicted felon. Prosecutors allege Hopkins, a friend of Cedric Ford, knew about his criminal history before giving him the semi-automatic rifle and handgun he used in the rampage that left 3 dead and 14 others wounded.
The Wichita Eagle reported Hopkins is the mother of Ford's two children. She moved out of her home with Ford in July and retrieved the guns from the house less than a month later with the help of police, the Eagle reported, citing an affidavit in the case. Shortly thereafter, Hopkins gave the guns back to Ford "because Ford had threatened her," the paper reported.
Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said Friday that his office served Ford, 38, with the protection-from-abuse order at 3:30 p.m. Thursday and the move is likely was set off killing spree. Such orders are typically served "because there's some type of violence in a relationship," he added.
Ford worked at Excel Industries, a plant in Hesston that makes lawn-mower products. The dead were all killed inside the building, and were chosen at random, Walton said.
Speaking by phone to Hesston Mayor David Kauffman on Friday, President Obama “offered his condolences to the loved ones of those who were lost and his gratitude to police officer and other first responders who acted quickly to save lives," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
Ford was accused of assault by a woman who identified herself in Sedgwick County court records as his live-in girlfriend, according to The Wichita Eagle.
The woman, in a written petition for protection from abuse that was filed Feb. 5, said Ford “placed me in a choke hold from behind – I couldn’t breathe.”
“He is an alcoholic, violent, depressed,” she wrote in her petition, in capital letters, according to the Wichita Eagle. “It’s my belief he is in desperate need of medical & psychological help!”
Walton said Ford was upset when he received the protective order at work, but that recipients are often upset in those circumstances.
“He didn’t display anything that was outrageous," Walton said. “He just displayed that he was upset with this order."
The shootings began about 5 p.m. as the gunman drove toward the plant. He opened fire and shot a man in another car, wounding him in the shoulder. Another person was shot in the leg at an intersection a short time later. The gunman was firing a .223-caliber long gun and also had a pistol, Walton said.
Hesston Police Department Sgt. Chris Carter was off-duty when the shooting began but was one of the first officers to arrive on the scene. Walton called him a "hero" for loading one of the victims, who had been shot in the parking lot, into his pickup to get him help. CONTINUE READING