Kansas Mass Shooting Suspect Had Been Served Protection Order before Attack

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Cedric Ford, suspect in the Kansas shooting, is shown in this undated photo released by Harvey County Sheriff's Office on February 26. Ford, the man suspected of killing three people at the Kansas lawnmower factory where he worked had been served a protection order 90 minutes before his shooting spree, which also wounded 14 people, authorities said. Harvey County Sheriff's Office/Reuters

(Reuters) - The man suspected of killing three people at the Kansas lawnmower factory where he worked had been served a protection order 90 minutes before his shooting spree, which also wounded 14 people, authorities said on Friday.

The suspect, identified as Cedric Ford, was armed with a .223-caliber assault-style rifle and a pistol as he fired randomly at coworkers over 26 minutes on Thursday. He was killed in an exchange of gunfire with the first police officer to reach the scene.

"The man was not going to stop shooting," Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said at a news conference on Friday. "The only reason he stopped shooting is because that officer stopped the shooter."

[Related: Gunman Kills Three in Kansas Rampage]

Walton described the officer who killed the suspect as a hero, saying there was many as 300 people in the Excel Industries factory where the worst of the rampage took place as employees were beginning the day's second shift.

Ford had been served a protection from abuse order earlier Thursday, which may have triggered the bloodshed, authorities said. Walton did not specify who had sought the protection order but said it was not an employee of the plant.

Protection from abuse orders usually are issued on behalf of a person in an intimate relationship or who lives in the same household as the subject, and has previously been physically or sexually abused.

The shooting began with Ford firing out of his vehicle as he drove through two cities to the factory, Walton has said. He then stole one victim's car and went to Excel Industries and shot someone in the parking lot.

Law enforcement in Hesston, a town of about 3,800 people about 35 miles north of Wichita, has said the mass killing was not terror-related. They were checking to see if the firearms were legally purchased.

At least five of the wounded victims were initially listed in critical condition.

The Kansas killings follow a mass shooting in Michigan last weekend, when a driver for car-hailing service Uber killed six people.

The escalating number of mass shootings in the United States has elevated gun control as a campaign issue in the November U.S. presidential election.