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Three killed in 'horrible situation' in Kansas: what we know so far

Fourteen others were wounded in a shooting spree in the small Kansas town of Hesston. Authorities say the shootings were not related to terrorism.

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Police guard the front door of Excel Industries in Hesston, Kan., Thursday, where a gunman killed an undetermined number of people and injured many more.

Fernando Salazar/The Wichita Eagle/AP

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Authorities in south-central Kansas are investigating the motives of a gunman who killed three people and wounded 14 before being shot dead by an officer on Thursday.

All those killed were shot inside Excel Industries, a plant in the town of Hesston that makes lawn mower products. Harvey Country Sheriff T. Walton said of those injured, 10 were in critical condition.

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"This is a horrible situation my friends, just terrible," he said at a late evening press conference. "There were some things that triggered this particular individual," he added, telling reporters that there was no indication that this incident was related to terrorism.

Sources close to the investigation have identified the gunman as Cedric Larry Ford, and Sheriff Walton told ABC News that he had been served with a restraining order requiring him to stay away from his former girlfriend about 90 minutes before he began shooting people at random on his way to the Excel plant.

Authorities say the majority of the gunman's victims were coworkers at the plant, but that several people were wounded when he began shooting out the window of his car, including one man on the street in the nearby town of Newton and another person at an intersection.

The attacker then arrived at the plant, where he had been scheduled to work and where more than 100 employees were beginning the day's second shift, and opened fire on his coworkers. He was armed with a .223-caliber assault-style rifle and a pistol, Walton said.

The first police officer on the scene exchanged fire with the shooter and killed him. Walton said the officer who killed the man is "a hero as far as I'm concerned.”

The shooting came less than a week after a man opened fire at several locations in and around Kalamazoo, Mich., leaving six people dead and two severely wounded. The growing number of mass shootings across the United States has elevated gun control as a campaign issue in this year’s presidential race.

Yet despite the high-profile incidents in San Bernardino, Calif., and Charleston, S.C., mass shootings were the least common form of gun violence in the United States in 2015. A Christian Science Monitor analysis of two crowdsourced databases identified 22 mass shootings, an incident in which four or more victims are shot and killed, that occurred during the year.

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As Henry Gass and Jessica Mendoza reported:

In these 22 incidents – which averaged about one every 16 days – 133 people were killed and 52 were wounded. The shooters were usually white men acting alone, and they typically were motivated by personal disputes, rather than politics or ideology.

The incidents shook communities across the country, from the deep-red towns of Roseburg, Ore., and Waco, Texas, to the liberal enclaves of Barre, Vt., and Minneapolis. But barring further shootings before the end of the year, 2015 should end up being just slightly above average when compared with the past 15 years.

This report includes material from The Associated Press and Reuters.