Excel Industries' Hesston factory temporarily closed after shooting

VIDEO: Hesston town hall meeting

Hesston Mayor David Kauffman talks about the town's recovery process. (Video by Beccy Tanner)
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Hesston Mayor David Kauffman talks about the town's recovery process. (Video by Beccy Tanner)

Excel Industries employees were not back to work Monday but have started to gather their belongings from inside the factory, which was the scene of a mass shooting Thursday.

Russ Haug, who lists his title as quality engineer at Excel, posted in a closed Facebook group for Excel employees on Monday instructions on how workers could retrieve their belongings.

After Thursday’s shooting, no Excel employees could re-enter the building because of the ongoing investigation.

On Monday, Haug’s post said employees could go to Excel from noon to 5 p.m. to retrieve their keys, purses, cellphones or anything else left inside the plant. Excel managers took employees’ information and then went inside to get the items for each person.

Excel has not said when it will reopen the plant, which manufactures lawnmowers and employs about 1,000. A recording on the hotline set up for employees said the plant would be closed Tuesday, but Excel would hold employee meetings.

Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said the Kansas Bureau of Investigation gave control of the building back to Excel around 3 p.m. Sunday. He said the bureau wasn’t yet finished with interviews because investigators couldn’t reach some employees and others were hospitalized.

On Monday, Via Christi said three of its patients from the Excel shooting were in good condition, two were in fair condition and one was in critical condition. Wesley Medical Center said it had two patients Monday. One was in serious condition and one was in fair condition.

Walton said Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder – who killed Cedric Ford, the Excel shooter – had been interviewed by KBI Sunday.

He said the Sheriff’s department has kept two deputies at Excel 24-hours a day since the shooting. But he said he did not know if Excel would continue that security schedule when the factory reopens.

Walton said he knows Ford had an assault rifle and semi-automatic pistol, but said he still doesn’t know how many rounds Ford fired or how much ammunition he carried to the shooting.

At the Excel property Monday, Sgt. Scott Perkins, of Harvey County, said a cleaning company was inside the Excel building on Monday. Walton said the cleaning crew started cleaning Sunday evening.

Perkins said a temporary chain-link fence was scheduled to go up around the Excel factory on Monday to help secure the area. He said he didn’t know if a permanent fence would later be installed.

About 20 cars still sat on the Excel property midday Monday. But Perkins said workers started to take cars from the parking lot as early as Saturday.

Gabriella Dunn: 316-268-6400, @gabriella_dunn

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