Hesston community remembers Excel shooting 5 years later

Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 12:47 PM CST
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HESSTON, Kan. (KWCH) - It’s been five years since a gunman killed three people and injured 14 others in a shooting that ended at Excel Industries in Hesston.

Excel Industries issued a statement about the anniversary of the shooting Thursday:

“The tragedy that took place on February 25, 2016 forever changed our company. Excel Industries has a planned moment of silence today to honor the victims. We will never forget the innocent people who lost their lives that day -- Renee Benjamin, Joshua Higbee and Brian Sadowsky, and the suffering endured by countless others, including the 14 others who were shot in an act of senseless violence. We are forever grateful to the first responders, and especially to Chief Officer Doug Schroeder, who showed their bravery and to our local community who showered the survivors and every member of our organization with love and support. We remain #ExcelStrong.”

Harvey County Emergency Management also posted on Facebook to remember the victims: Benjamin, Higbee, and Sadowski.

Five years ago, a gunman killed three people and injured several others in an incident that began in Newton and ended at...

Posted by Harvey County Emergency Management on Thursday, February 25, 2021

While Feb. 25 is an emotional day of reflection for many in the Hesston community, survivors have helped to bring the community closer. Among them is Edna Decker who was headed home from the grocery store when Cedric Ford, the gunman who would kill three and wound at Excel Industries, sped in front of her car.

“Then when he stopped in the middle of the road, I immediately knew something was wrong and then I saw the gun,” Decker said.

She said Ford tried to carjack her. She wouldn’t get out of the car.

“And then he pounded on the window and wanted me to get out and I shook my head ‘no,’” she said. “Then he lifted the gun up right at the window and I thing that’s when I laid down because he shot and it would have hit me right here.”

She said by the grace of God, she laid down trying to doge the bullet, and survived.

“I wouldn’t be alive today if He hadn’t helped me lay down,” she said.

And after seeing Ford’s face and police arriving to help her, Decker said she knew he wouldn’t stop there.

“I kept telling the, ‘go to the others, because I knew what he was going to do,” she said.

Police said Ford eventually ended up at his workplace, Excel Industries, where he went on the deadly shooting spree. Police said Ford had been served protection from abuse papers from a girlfriend earlier that day at work.

Ford died after being shot by Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder who was the first on the scene and went into Excel Industries, taking action that investigators say, saved many lives.

Through the tragedy, Decker said the events on Feb. 25, 2016 have brought the Hesston community closer together.

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