Have There Been Mass Shootings In Kansas Before? Hesston Is More The Exception
A tragic series of shootings unfolded in Harvey County, Kansas over the course of just a few hours on Thursday. The suspect wounded victims in Newton and Hesston and a brunt of the attack took place at Excel Industries, where he reportedly worked. At least 14 people were injured and at least four were killed, including the suspect who was fatally shot by law enforcement. Though mass shootings are sadly becoming all the more commonplace in the United States, the incident nonetheless took the region by surprise. Have there been mass shootings in Kansas before? The Sunflower State has been historically quite safe over the years.
According to data from The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tracking such tragedies from 1976 to 2010, there have been eight mass shootings in Kansas over the course of 34 years, amounting to 36 total victims. The incidents all share the definition of what the FBI refer to as "mass murder" — namely, an incident primarily occurring in one location where at least four people are killed, not including the shooting suspect. Recent information culled from The Gun Violence Archive shows just one incident over the past three years occurring. Prior to what happened in Hesston and Newton, four people were killed in Topeka in 2013 in a quadruple homicide.
Violence on such a massive scale as the shootings in Newton and Hesston are relatively rare in Kansas. It's certainly unusual for such a high profile violent crime to occur. Similarly, there has been just one school shooting in Kansas history. A 14-year-old teen reportedly opened fire at Goddard Junior High School in 1985, killing Principal James McGee and injuring three people, two of whom were teachers.
The teenager pleaded no contest to all four charges, which included one count of first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault. He served time in a state facility until he turned 21. Under Kansas state law, the teen would have to have been at least 16 years old to be tried as an adult at the time his trial took place. The shooting is what ultimately led to the age of prosecuting juveniles as adults to be lowered in 1990.
It's been over 30 years since the school shooting occurred in Goddard. The citizens of Kansas and the nation as a whole have been sadly forced to shift their focus to the tragic shootings in Newton and Hesston. The Harvey County shootings are still under investigation.