Law enforcement under fire: Hesston police chief heals after Excel shooting

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Seconds count to stop a gunman who walks into a school, a business or church, and opens fire on innocent people. Two years ago it happened in the town of Hesston.  

Police Chief Doug Schroeder stopped that killer. Schroeder talked with KSN News 3 about the healing process after that traumatic situation. 

It took just minutes for Chief Doug Schroeder to shoot and kill the man who opened fire at Excel Industries. 

Now, years later, the process of healing through his faith continues for the chief, and those who responded that day.  

February 25, 2016, changed the small town of Hesston and the community of Harvey County. A suspect goes on a shooting spree, first opening firing on three vehicles before driving to his workplace.

RELATED LINK | Officials: Four dead, 14 wounded in shooting at Excel Industries in Hesston

Police Chief Doug Schroeder says he remembers everything that day. He was sitting at his desk when he heard the calls of an active shooter.

I’m doing good. We have a wonderful support system around me. I feel like I always have been. I don’t know how someone could go through something like this and not have faith to rely on.” 
– Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder

“Ironically enough, I was taking a test on workplace violence,” said Schroeder. 

According to Schroeder, he left immediately and went directly to the plant. 

“So, there’s no delay with a shot being fired every four seconds, you have to get to the threat and that was on my mind,” said Schroeder.

Schroeder says he ditched his vehicle and ran into the building. 

“I did ask some people you know, where is he? What does he look like? I got some limited information there,” said Schroeder.

Moments later Schroeder came face to face with the gunman.

“He started backing into the building, and we met in an administrative area in a hallway and engaged each other at that point. I had to stop the threat. This guy was, he was not done killing people. So, yeah, I had to stop the threat,” said Schroeder.

Chief Schroeder did just that. Although, three workers lost their lives that day and 14 people were wounded.

RELATED LINK | Law enforcement under fire

Within hours, Schroeder and the other first responders began the progress of dealing with the trauma of that day.

“So, for me, I met with a police chaplain that night and really connected through prayer and that was the start really kind of the healing process,” said Schroeder.

Dealing with a critical incident, can be extremely difficult for law enforcement and first responders. For Schroeder and others, they relied on counseling through what’s called a large critical incident debriefing.

“So, it was important for us to get together and talk about things and also to kind of set the stage of looking after each other,” said Schroeder.

RELATED LINK | Candlelight vigil held to help Hesston heal 

Some two years later after the Excel shooting, the residents of Hesston are still healing along with its top cop.

“I’m doing good. We have a wonderful support system around me. I feel like I always have been. I don’t know how someone could go through something like this and not have faith to rely on,” said Schroeder.

Chief Schroeder told KSN News 3, in response to the Excel shooting, law enforcement in Harvey County has turned its focus to educating the public about active shooter situations. They are working with an organization from Texas that specializes in critical incident training to prepare churches, offices, companies, schools and churches for the possibility of violence.  

RELATED LINK | Hesston police chief receives Medal of Valor

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