SUPERIOR — Twenty seconds is all the time that went by during the entire shooting incident on Oct. 21 inside the Superior Agrex facility where a disgruntled former employee killed two people, the Nebraska State Patrol announced Wednesday.
The shooting had stopped by the time the first 911 call was made by an employee exactly one minute after Max Hoskinson fired his first shot, NSP Lt. Brent Bockstadter said at a news conference in Grand Island on Wednesday afternoon.
Bockstadter explained the investigation revealed that Hoskinson, 61, of Superior had been fired from his job at the grain elevator Oct. 21 around the time of his lunch break about 1 p.m. Hoskinson, who reportedly had been the chief grain merchandiser there, left the building per company policy, and employees saw him leave the grounds.
Agrex supervisors, including Darin Koepke, a 53-year-old Hadar man who was there to fire Hoskinson, were in a closed-door meeting following the termination and hadn’t yet announced Hoskinson’s firing.
About 15 minutes later, Hoskinson returned to the Agrex office with a handgun and entered his former office briefly, just as 60-year-old Sandra Nelson of Formoso, Kansas, was returning from her lunch break. Bockstadter said the employees weren’t alarmed because they hadn’t been informed of Hoskinson’s termination.
Hoskinson walked past two employees who were working at their desks and stopped at the doorway of Nelson’s office. He pulled the gun from his waistband and fired twice at Nelson through the doorway.
Bockstadter said the bullets struck Nelson in the chest and then left shoulder. A pathologist later determined the first shot killed her “nearly instantly.”
Nelson also was a grain merchandiser at Agrex.
“We don’t believe that Mrs. Nelson knew that the managers’ meeting was occurring or that Mr. Hoskinson had been terminated,” Bockstadter said.
Those in the closed-door meeting recognized the sounds as gunshots, and an unidentified employee in the meeting retrieved a shotgun kept in the office for varmint control and loaded it.
As Hoskinson tried to gain entry to the room, Bockstadter said, Koepke threw himself against the door. Hoskinson shot through the door and struck Koepke in the left abdominal area. A third unidentified victim also was shot through the door while trying to barricade it.
Bockstadter said Hoskinson’s gun jammed and he had to expel one round before making the weapon operational again. Then he forced the door open, pushing aside Koepke, who had slumped to the floor in front of the door. Upon entering the room, Hoskinson shot Koepke a second time, striking him in the chest.
The employee who had retrieved the shotgun fired toward Hoskinson, striking him in the right arm and chest and incapacitating him.
In total, Bockstadter said, Hoskinson fired five shots and had another 10 in his gun when he was shot.
Hoskinson died an hour after the shooting at Brodstone Memorial Hospital in Superior.
Koepke was taken to Brodstone and then flown to Bryan Health West Campus in Lincoln. He died about six hours after the shooting, due to the trauma caused by the initial gunshot wound.
Bockstadter said the third wounded victim was transported by private vehicle to Brodstone, where he was treated and released.
Capt. Jeff Roby, commander of Nebraska State Patrol Troop C headquartered in Grand Island, said NSP has declined to release the name of the employee who ended Hoskinson’s rampage or any of the other survivors. There were eight employees in the building at the time and others outside. Roby said supervisors were on scene during the shooting due to the termination and other employees were performing their regular duties.
“The Nebraska State Patrol considers all the survivors of this terrible incident to be victims, and we will not be releasing their names,” he said.
He said the employee who shot Hoskinson won’t face criminal charges and his actions “without question” saved lives.
By leaning against the door as Hoskinson tried to enter, Roby said, Koepke likely saved lives, too — “unfortunately giving his own life in the process.”
Roby said it’s not clear where Hoskinson went in the 15 minutes he spent away from the grain elevator or if he contacted anyone during that time. He didn’t mention his motive for the shooting during the incident or leave any message behind.
There were no additional ammunition magazines on Hoskinson or in his vehicle, but Roby couldn’t say whether Hoskinson owned any other firearms.
There was surveillance video on site, but any footage related to the shooting won’t be released by NSP, Roby said. The video was presented to the Nuckolls County Attorney’s Office, which will determine whether it is released.
Roby and Bockstadter both praised the response of other Agrex employees, who provided immediate first aid and evacuated areas surrounding the office. They also complimented the efforts of first responders in Nuckolls County, who arrived at the grain elevator within minutes of the shooting.
They also complimented the Superior community for coming together in the aftermath of the tragedy that claimed three lives.
“Our heart goes out to the community there,” Roby said. “The community is healing. Those families are healing so we think about them as this investigation progresses.”