We have just had another mass shooting, so maybe this would be a good time to reflect on the shooting we had nearly two years ago in Hesston. I, like everyone else, was shocked that it could happen here.
What came out of it was a lot of good people coming together making "Hesston Strong." But here's a story you didn't, and won't, hear on the news. My friend Chris was working on the paint line that day. A bullet grazed him — he had the marks on his stomach — but didn't put him down. He ran outside and grabbed a friend and told him they had to go back in to get the guy who was standing next to him because he had been seriously wounded. His friend, nearly in shock, asked him why. Chris said, "Because it's the right thing to do." The two of them went in, even though the shooter was still active, and carried the guy outside to an ambulance.
And now (as Paul Harvey used to say), the rest of the story. Several months back Excel had its "layoff." Well, Chris didn't get a layoff; Chris got a letter telling him he could reapply in two months. Chris, the guy who got shot; Chris, the guy who went back in to rescue someone; Chris, the guy who refused to be interviewed by the news crews even though they knew who he was and what he had done. No, Chris wasn't told to come back. Chris was offered the "opportunity" to reapply for his job.
Hesston Strong? Yes. Excel Strong? No. And the saddest part of this particular story? The guy Chris risked his life to save couldn't deal with the pain any longer, and a few weeks ago took his own life. Chris, who turned just 26 this past September, is dealing with having been "laid off" by Excel, but also trying to deal with the death of the man he risked his own life to save. He has never seen himself as a hero of any kind, but I see him that way. Chris gave that man's family and friends the chance to see him for nearly two years. And that was the only thing I could think of to tell Chris when he asked me: "Why?"
Excel Strong? No. Chris Strong? Yes.
— Charlie Snook, Newton.