The shootings began at around 4:57 p.m. at a street intersection in Newton, where Ford shot at two vehicles in a drive-by shooting. The first motorist suffered a non-fatal gunshot wound to the shoulder, while the second motorist escaped unscathed after a bullet pierced the car's windshield. He then drove down Old U.S. Route 81 and fired at oncoming traffic. His vehicle and another one crashed in a nearby ditch, after which he got out, shot and injured the other driver in the leg, and stole that victim's vehicle.
Ford then arrived at Excel Industries, a manufacturer of lawnmowers, in Hesston, injured an elderly woman in the parking lot, went inside the building, and fired randomly at the assembly lines, shooting several employees. He then shot at the first officer to respond to the scene, and the officer fired back. He was struck by bullets and died at 5:23 p.m. Ford was armed with a Zastava Arms AK-47-style semi-automatic rifle and a Glock 22 semi-automatic pistol. At least 150 people were inside the plant at the time of the shooting there.