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Fired worker shoots three people, killing two at Nebraska grain elevator

Fired worker shoots three people, killing two at Nebraska grain elevator

A fired worker shot three people at a grain elevator in Nebraska on Thursday, killing two before being fatally shot himself, authorities say.

According to the Nebraska State Patrol, Max Hoskinson, 61, opened fire on his former co-workers at the Agrex elevator in Superior not long after being fired from his job.

The patrol said Hoskinson returned to Agrex with a handgun shortly before 2 p.m. and opened fire, striking three people.

A worker then retrieved a shotgun from an office and returned fire, striking Hoskinson, according to the patrol.

One of the people shot by Hoskinson died at the scene. Another suffered life-threatening injuries and was flown to a hospital in Lincoln, where the person died Thursday night, according to the patrol. 

The third person was treated at a hospital in Superior and released.

Hoskinson was taken to the Superior hospital, where he was declared deceased.

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Community leaders said the town is in shock and grieving. In a town of about 1,600 people, everybody knows everybody, they said.

"We feel for the families," Mayor Chris Peterson said. "Everybody is kind of in shock, which is what you'd expect. But we will pull through this. It's what small towns do. People help each other."

Bill Blauvelt, publisher of the Superior Express, said Hoskinson and the people he shot were well known in the community.

"It's a small town," he said. "We all feel the pain."

From the outside, there was no indication that something was amiss, Blauvelt said.

Blauvelt said that Hoskinson was the chief grain merchandiser at the elevator and that the female co-worker who died at the scene was a merchandiser who worked for him. She was a native of Superior who, like Hoskinson, had worked at the elevator for a number of years, Blauvelt said.

State Patrol Lt. Michael Korte told the Lincoln Journal Star that investigators spent hours talking with witnesses, including the employee who authorities say shot Hoskinson. That employee, Korte said, was not wounded, the Journal Star reported.

Multiple emergency workers responded to the call for help at the elevator: the State Patrol, the Nuckolls County Sheriff’s Office, the Superior Police Department, and the Superior and Nelson Fire Departments.

In a statement, Gov. Pete Ricketts said the patrol would lead the investigation.

“The news of the attack on Agrex Elevator in Superior is shocking and devastating," he said. "Susanne and I are praying for the victims of the attack."

The Sheriff’s Office, the Police Department and the Nuckolls County Attorney’s Office assisted in the investigation. 

Agrex operates elevators in five states, including two in Nebraska, according to its website. A representative of the company couldn't be reached for comment.

Several others related to the case also could not be reached for comment, including family members of those involved.

A representative of the State Patrol said no additional information would be released Thursday evening.

Superior has two grain elevators, and together, they are an important resource for area farmers who are harvesting grain. The shooting comes in the midst of harvest season, and the elevator closed for the remainder of the day. It's not clear when it will reopen.

Blauvelt said the town's other elevator was damaged in an explosion last year, after which the Agrex elevator handled grain for both. That second elevator, operated by the Aurora Cooperative, reopened this season and is functioning.

Agrex describes itself as “a full-service agricultural commodity trading company handling grain, oilseeds, feed ingredients, hay, and many other food ingredients.”

The website says its administrative offices are in Overland Park, Kansas.

Superior is southeast of Hastings, along the Nebraska-Kansas border.


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Nancy Gaarder helps cover public safety and weather events as an editor on The World-Herald's breaking news desk. Follow her on Twitter @gaarder. Email: nancy.gaarder@owh.com

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