Hesston police chief credited for stopping gunman’s rampage at Excel Industries

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HESSTON, Kan. -- Running toward gunfire and single-handedly taking down a killer, Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder is now being hailed a hero for his quick response to the Excel Industries factory shooting rampage on Thursday.

Law enforcement officials identified Schroeder Friday as the cop who stopped gunman Cedric Ford when he went on a shooting spree, killing three people and hurting more than a dozen others, inside Excel Industries.

“I want to particularly recognize and thank the law enforcement community that responded so aggressively and rapidly in this situation,” Gov. Sam Brownback said during a Friday news conference.

“The Hesston police chief in particular went in immediately to address the situation rather than even waiting on back up. He went right in and did heroic duty and service."

Officials said Schroeder's fearless actions saved lives, as they believe Ford would’ve kept shooting had he not been stopped.

It’s a rapid response law enforcement officers across the Kansas City metro proactively train for.

“Our first priority is to go in and neutralize that threat,” explained John Syme, an Independence police officer.

Syme said his department does annual active shooter training where officers enter a business or a school to practice for a real-life attack.

“There are all sorts of tactics that we do,” he said. “We conduct room clearing tactics. We’re trained on how to head down a hallway, go into a specific room and target the threat in that room. It gets down to those details.”

Syme said over the years, their tactics have changed, as officers no longer wait outside and try to make verbal contact with the bad guy.

“Now we go inside,” he said. “We go to the sound of gunfire. We’re going to neutralize the threat. That’s our primary objective.”

Syme said about one-third of Independence police officers are now trained to carry trauma kits in their cars, allowing them to provide tourniquets and bandages to shooting victims before EMS arrive on active shooter scenes.

“When an ambulance does respond, they are not trained to handle an active shooter,” he said. “They’re going to wait outside until the scene is safe, and our police officers are going to neutralize the threat, but also try to treat other people.”

Finally, Syme said weapons systems have drastically improved, as has technology. For example, in the past officers used radios to communicate during active shooter situations; now, they have in-car computers.

“Now it’s seen on the screens in our police car, and it updates as the situation changes,” he said.

Bottom line: Officers are committed to preparing for the unexpected.

“Any call that we get can change and can escalate into something like that,” Syme said. “So no call is routine in law enforcement.”

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