A Kansas woman has been charged with giving firearms to Cedric Ford, the man identified as the gunman involved in a mass shooting at a lawn mower factory, according to UPI. Ford’s ex-girlfriend Sarah Jo Hopkins, 28, is accused of transferring weapons to him even though she was aware he was a convicted felon.
In an affidavit obtained by KWCH News, it states that Hopkins gave Ford “…a Glock, Model 22,.40 caliber semi-automatic handgun and a Zastava Serbia, AK-47 type semi-automatic rifle… ” knowing he “had been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year…” which is in violation of federal law.
On Thursday, February 25, 2016, Ford, 38, opened fire at Excel Industries, a lawn mower parts plant in Hesston, Kansas where he was employed as a painter. Three people were killed and 14 others injured in the shooting, while Ford was shot dead by police. Those who perished in the shooting have been identified as Renee Benjamin, 30; Joshua Higbee, 31; and Brian Sadowsky, 44, according to ABC News.
WHIO News reported that Hopkins is the mother of Ford’s 2-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. According to UPI, Hopkins told authorities she purchased the guns in 2014 from a pawn shop when she and Ford lived together. After Hopkins and Ford split in 2015 she moved out of their shared abode and left the guns behind. Later, she took possession of the weapons, but told police she subsequently gave them back to Ford after he threatened her, according to WHIO News.
Hopkins is currently behind bars at the Sedgwik County Jail without bond. If convicted, Hopkins could be sentenced to up to a decade in federal prison and receive up to a $250,000 fine, The Wichita Eagle reports. The Wichita Eagle learned that Hopkins was employed at a local child care facility, and formerly worked at Excel Industries, Ford’s employer and the location where the shooting took place.
According to WHIO News, Hopkins is not the ex-girlfriend that filed a protection order against Ford on Thursday prior to the deadly shooting. CNN reports that the former girlfriend who obtained the restraining order against Ford claimed the Kansas man had abused her. Ford’s rampage began shortly after he was served with the legal document by authorities.
The order, CNN reports, said Ford pushed his ex-girlfriend, grabbed her, and choked her until she could no longer breathe. The former girlfriend also wrote in the document that Ford was “violent[ly] depressed,” an “alcoholic,” and that he was in “desperate need of medical [and] psychological help!” according to CNN.
Prior to getting to work Thursday, Ford shot two people in the nearby town of Newton, Kansas. He then arrived at Excel Industries in Hesston, Kansas and began shooting. According to CNN, Matt Jarrell, a friend and co-worker, said Ford was “quiet, a good listener,” and noted he would never expect Ford to do what he did.
Jarrell told CNN he witnessed one person get shot, saying, “I was sitting in my truck with the door open… Why he didn’t shoot me, I don’t know.” He stated that before this incident, Ford “…never came off to be a bad guy.”
Additionally, Jarrell told The Wichita Eagle that Ford was carrying an assault rifle and that “casings” were flying “out of the gun. It was like something out of the movies.” Once the shooting began, Jarell left the scene and called 911 for help, The Wichita Eagle reports.
Jarell is conflicted, according to CNN, about how to mourn for Ford and those he killed, pondering, “Do I go to the guy’s funeral because he was my friend or do I not go because he murdered all these people.” He added, “It’s going to be hard going to my co-workers’ funerals. It’s a lot to cope [with].”
[Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images]