To Kansas shooting survivor Melissa Torres, her co-worker who stormed inside their workplace and indiscriminately opened fire with an assault rifle looked “cold” and “evil.”
Torres, 21, recalled that heart-pounding moment Thursday when gunman Cedric Larry Ford burst into Excel Industries and aimed two guns in her direction. The violence he unleashed — ending with three dead and more than a dozen injured — is now seared in the memory of the mother of two.
“He looked like he was ready to go do damage,” said Torres, who was shot through the hand and injured on her back and hip when Ford ended a two-town rampage in Hesston, about 30 minutes north of Wichita.
Ford was killed by the first police officer on the scene, Harvey County authorities said.
Torres was in Ford’s line of fire when he entered the building and said she got a quick look at him before she made a run for it.
He was “just trying to kill whoever he could,” Torres told NBC News in an exclusive interview. “He had no remorse … he just looked cold, just evil.”
“How could you look your co-workers that you see every day right in the eyes and just shoot at them?” Torres asked.
She said in her 10 months at Excel, a lawn mower manufacturer, she had only made small talk with Ford, whom she described as “quiet.”
But the day before the shooting, Torres worked closely with him for the first time, and some of his behavior left her perplexed.
He seemed to be talking on his phone and laughing uncontrollably underneath his protective mask, she recalled. He also appeared peeved with other co-workers, leading a supervisor to ask if everything was alright.
Authorities said Friday that Ford had been served with a restraining order at Excel just 90 minutes before the attack, which began around 5 p.m. local time (6 p.m. ET).
Torres arrived at work just a half-hour earlier.
She said when she heard the shots, all she could think about were her 2- and 4-year-old daughters.
“Nothing was in my head but my girls … I just needed to get out of there,” she said. “I had so much adrenaline. I didn’t even realize I was shot in my hip until at the hospital.”
When the pain did surface, it was intense. “I felt like my hand was going to fall off,” Torres said.
Two days later, Torres said the pain is still “horrible.”
“But I’m thankful that’s all that happened to me,” she said. “I’d rather have this pain and have my life than to be gone. This pain I can deal with as long as I can see my daughters and my husband.”
One of the three killed at Excel, 30-year-old Renee Benjamin, was Torres’ good friend.
Torres said her emotional healing is going to take much longer than her physical recuperation.
“To see him walk in and look you in the eyes and aim those guns at you and shoot — that’s something I won’t ever forget. That’s horrific,” Torres said.
She added that she’s not sure she will want to return to Excel even after it reopens.
“I don’t want to walk through those doors that he walked through,” she said. “I don’t want to relive that at all.”