An additional 14 people were injured — 10 of whom are in critical condition at local hospitals.
The shooter was also killed by police, bringing the total number of fatalities to four.
Authorities first got calls about a man shooting from a vehicle in Newton about 5 p.m., the Harvey County Sheriff’s Office said.
Minutes later, there were reports of a shooting at Excel Industries, which makes lawn care equipment in Hesston, Kansas.
“Everybody says it can’t happen here,” Walton said. “And here we are. It happened here.”
The gunman apparently began shooting after county deputies served him a “protection from abuse” order, which are typically issued after violence in a relationship. The order was served around 3:30 pm local time, and the shooting began around 5 pm.
Ford also had several convictions in Florida for burglary, grand theft, fleeing from an officer, aggravated fleeing, and carrying a concealed weapon, according to the AP.
The shooting came less than a week after another mass shooting at Kalamazoo, Michigan.
The shootings are a devastating tragedy, but unfortunately one that Americans are increasingly familiar with. As more of these events end up in the news, the country is being forced to consider why the US, more than any other developed nation, suffers from such extraordinary levels of gun violence. And it seems easy access to firearms provide one answer.
Kansas Shooting Gallery
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A gunman armed with an “assault-style” weapon drove through a south-central Kansas town Thursday, taking shots at people, before storming the factory where he worked. Authorities said he killed three people and wounded 14 before being shot dead by an officer.
Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said all the dead were shot inside Excel Industries, a plant in Hesston that makes lawn mower products. He said of those hurt, 10 were critically wounded.
A law enforcement officer killed the gunman after he began shooting at police, Walton said.
Walton would not identify the suspect or discuss a motive but said there were “some things that triggered this individual.”
The shootings began about 5 p.m. when the gunman was in a car and shot a man on the street, wounding him in the shoulder. A short time later, another person was shot in the leg at an intersection.
“The shooter proceeded north to Excel Industries in Hesston, where one person was shot in the parking lot before he opened fire inside the building,” the department said in a release. “He was seen entering the building with an assault-style long gun.”