Authorities investigating last week’s mass shooting in Hesston are still gathering facts but also are taking time to figure out what’s left to do.
KBI spokesman and Senior Special Agent Mark Malick on Tuesday said investigators from his agency were spending the day sifting through and processing paperwork, as well as determining what steps still need to be taken to wrap up work on the case. The KBI also was moving its command post back to Wichita, he said.
“They’re not at a pause by any means, but that’s the only thing that’s being done today,” Malick said, speaking generally about the Feb. 25 shooting spree that left four people dead – including the shooter, 38-year-old Cedric Ford – at Hesston manufacturer Excel Industries. Fourteen other people were wounded, including two shot by Ford as he drove to the plant.
Investigators are “compiling all the reports from all the interviews, and I know our crime scene response team was down there (in Hesston) for several days,” Malick said, adding that there are still “just absolutely a lot of interviews left and a lot of work to be done.”
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“In something of this magnitude, we’re going to be doing work ourselves for quite a while, along with the FBI and ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives),” he said. “It has scaled back to a certain degree. … But I know they’re still very active.”
Authorities think the serving of court papers from a woman seeking protection from abuse from Ford triggered his rampage. After receiving the papers at Excel, where he worked as a painter, he left the plant and went to his Newton home to retrieve weapons. He began shooting at vehicles on his way back to the plant.
When he reached Excel, Ford began firing at random, killing co-workers Renee Benjamin, 30; Josh Higbee, 31; and Brian Sadowsky, 44, authorities have said.
Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder confronted and fatally shot Ford in the plant’s front office after they exchanged gunfire.
Malick said it’s not yet clear when the law enforcement agencies assisting Harvey County authorities will finish their investigations.
Because Ford was killed in an officer-involved shooting, the agencies will turn over their reports to the Harvey County Attorney’s Office for review. Malick said he had no timeline for when that would happen.
“There’s no way for me to even guess when that’s going to be. It’s just a matter of waiting” for investigators to finish their work and for other reports, like toxicology screens on the dead, to come in, Malick said.
The end of the investigation “is not just closure for the agency or agencies that initially responded,” he added. “It’s closure for the community.”