Hesston, Kansas, multiple shooting
Police gathers outside lawn-care company Excel Industries, scene of a deadly multiple shooting reportedly by a former employeeReuters.

Three people were killed and 14 injured, five critically, when a gunman opened fire at multiple sites, including his workplace near Witchita, Kansas. The gunman, identified as an employee of lawn-equipment company Excel Industries, was shot dead in a gun battle with police.

"There are a lot of shot victims," said Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton at a news conference. "This is just a horrible incident that happened here.

"There's so many crime scenes and there's so many people," he added.

The gunman, who brandished what at least one witness described as an AK-47, was identified as 38-year-old Cedric Larry Ford, reported ABC News. He had an arrest record and sported tattoos saying "laugh now, cry later" and "grim reaper." At least one source said the shootings were linked to a breakup with his girlfriend.

At Excel, Ford's final stop, workers stripped off their shirts to use as tourniquets to staunch the bleeding after fellow employees were wounded as Ford sprayed bullets into a crowd.

Nearby Mennonite school Hesston College was placed on lockdown as soon as the shooting was reported by an employees at Excel Industries, located in the small town of Hesston.

The injured employee, a woman, ran to a nearby health-care office in the industrial complex for help and police arrived.

"I was in my area and I heard a guy yelling 'fire,' and I thought there was just a fire in the shop. I put my stuff down and just started walking away," Excel employee Chris Brooks told the Hesston Record.

"I heard pops like gunshots, and people were running in all directions, and I started running too. We all ran across the road. I could hear the bullets zinging by."

Excel welder Dan Hampton said he also heard the gunshots and "I got the hell out; everyone was running."

"It's the same story, different place," said another worker, referring to the epidemic of gun violence in America.

Before Ford opened fire at Excel he shot a man in the shoulder and another in the leg as he fired from a window in his truck, said police.

An Excel employee and friend of Ford called him a "mellow guy," who suddenly disappeared from work and returned with "gun on, strapped-up and everything," he told CNN. He watched Ford yell to a bystander, "Hey," then shoot him.

"I witnessed him shoot the shots. I saw the shell casings come out of the assault rifle," said Ford's friend. "I mean, that vivid. I can still see it."

Excel worker Austin McCaskill said he didn't know Ford, but he had seen him around. Other people who worked at the plant said the gunman "was having problems, like his girlfriend broke up with him," McCaskill told the Washington Post. "He was having a bunch of problems but you don't need to go blasting up a plant because you've got problems."