Nearly two weeks after a mass shooting in Hesston, Kan., the police chief heralded as a hero by the governor and many in his town broke his silence Tuesday in a letter.
Police Chief Doug Schroeder, who responded to the shootings at Excel Industries and killed the shooter, spoke about God, his community and employees inside Excel Industries who directed him to suspect Cedric Ford. And in the short letter, he did what residents across Hesston said he would do — not take credit for any heroic actions.
“I feel God has prepared me throughout my life and career for these events,” he wrote in his five-paragraph letter. “I am not a hero.
“I can’t think of one officer who wouldn’t have done the same thing I did.”
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The shooting occurred Feb. 25. Ford was at work around 3:30 p.m. when he was served an order of protection. Authorities said he appeared upset after that, and the shootings began about 90 minutes later.
In all, four people were killed, including Ford, and 14 were injured. Gov. Sam Brownback applauded the response of law enforcement, especially Schroeder. The day after the shooting, Brownback was the first to identify the police chief as the one who went into the building immediately.
“Rather than even waiting on backup, he went right in,” Brownback said. “And did heroic duty and service.”
In a story the day after the Excel shootings, residents in Hesston explained how Schroeder quietly goes about doing his job and how he wouldn’t want attention or praise.
Schroeder said in his letter Tuesday that he was proud of the entire law enforcement community, including the communications division and emergency medical services in Hesston and the Harvey County area.
“As it is written in Matthew 5:9, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’ ”
He also wrote that the people in Hesston, Newton and Harvey County are resilient.
“No one had to ask for an extra measure of patience with each other; they just gave it,” Schroeder wrote. “Thank you for the support and caring you have shown me and my family.
“I look forward to returning to a leadership role in the community as we all begin to heal.”
A spokesman with the county added to the release, saying Schroeder would not be granting interviews or making additional statements.