Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder offered condolences and thanked God and the community he serves in his first public statement since a shooting that left four dead and 14 wounded at a plant in Hesston.
Gov. Sam Brownback called Schroeder a hero for entering the facility alone and shooting Cedric Ford, the gunman, before more employees were hurt.
Schroeder deflected attention from his actions by citing the help he received from God. “I am not a hero,” Schroeder wrote. “I can’t think of one officer who wouldn’t have done the same thing I did. I am so proud of my brothers and sisters in Harvey County Communications, law enforcement, and EMS.”
Schroeder said many other law enforcement officials deserved credit, as did Excel employees who helped direct him to the shooter.
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“I am also proud of and thankful for the Excel employees,” he said.
He thanked the many first responders and crisis management personnel, singling out several officials in Hesston, Newton and Harvey County, including Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton.
“Obviously, without Doug doing what he did, those 200 to 300 people may not have all gotten out,” Walton said. “If you ever define a hero, that’s who this officer is.”
Schroeder leads by example, Walton said.
“He’s the kind of chief that, when there’s a call of a suspicious person or a stolen car, he’s not going to sit behind the desk. He’s going,” Walton said.
Walton has known Schroeder for about 12 years.
Walton said he hopes people, including the media, give Schroeder space and time to heal himself.
When a police officer shoots someone, a separate investigation takes place by the county attorney’s office to determine whether the shooting was justified.
“There’s no doubt in my mind or anybody’s mind that this was a justified shooting,” Walton said.
Here is Schroeder’s full statement.
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Survivors, victims' families and law enforcement tell of the deadly mass shooting at Excel Industries in Hesston, Kansas on Feb. 25, 2016. Video by John Albert/The Wichita Eaglejalbert@wichitaeagle.com