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State Patrol details timeline of Superior grain elevator shooting
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State Patrol details timeline of Superior grain elevator shooting

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Superior grain elevator

An employee who was fired Oct. 21 returned to the Agrex grain elevator in Superior and opened fire, killing two people and injuring another before being shot and killed, the Nebraska State Patrol said.

The first 911 call from inside the Superior Agrex facility where a disgruntled former employee killed two people on Oct. 21 came exactly a minute after Max Hoskinson fired his first shot, the Nebraska State Patrol announced Wednesday. 

But by the time the call was made, the tragic incident had already ended.

And one victim, 60-year-old Sandra Nelson, was already dead.

The whole shooting lasted about 20 seconds, State Patrol Lt. Brent Bockstadter said at a press conference in Grand Island on Wednesday afternoon. 

Bockstadter said Hoskinson, who was fired from his job at approximately 1 p.m. Oct. 21, returned to the Nuckolls County grain elevator less than 15 minutes later with a handgun.

Superior elevator employee who was fired shoots three people, killing two

He walked into the Agrex office and retreated to his former office briefly, just as Nelson was returning from her lunch break, Bockstadter said.

Agrex supervisors, including Darin Koepke, a 53-year-old Hadar man, were in a closed-door meeting as Hoskinson walked through the office, passed two employees who were working at their desks, and to the doorway of Nelson's office.

Hoskinson retrieved the gun from his waistband and fired twice through the doorway, Bockstadter said, striking Nelson in the chest and left shoulder. A pathologist determined the first shot killed her "nearly instantly."

"We don't believe that Mrs. Nelson knew that the managers' meeting was occurring or that Mr. Hoskinson had been terminated," Bockstadter said.

After shooting Nelson, Bockstadter said, Hoskinson turned to the closed-door meeting, where an employee was already loading a shotgun kept in the office for varmint control. Koepke, an out-of-town employee who was there to fire Hoskinson, threw himself against the door as Hoskinson tried to gain entry, Bockstadter said.

Hoskinson shot through the door and struck Koepke in the left abdominal area, Bockstadter said. A third unidentified victim was also shot while trying to barricade the door. 

Bockstadter said Hoskinson, whose gun had briefly jammed, forced the door open and shot Koepke again in the chest, before the employee who had retrieved the shotgun fired toward the 61-year-old, striking him in the right arm and chest, incapacitating Hoskinson and bringing a sudden end to the shooting less than half a minute after it began.

State Patrol identifies victims of Superior grain elevator shooting as city mourns

In total, Hoskinson fired five shots and had another 10 in his gun when he was shot. 

Koepke died at a Lincoln hospital six hours later, the initial gunshot wound proving fatal, Bockstadter said. Hoskinson died an hour after the shooting at the hospital in Superior. 

The third gunshot victim was treated and released from a local hospital. 

Troop C Capt. Jeff Roby said it's not clear where Hoskinson went in the 15 minutes he spent away from the grain elevator. The 61-year-old didn't contact anyone in that time, he said, and didn't leave any message or note behind. 

The State Patrol has declined to release the name of the quick-acting employee who killed Hoskinson. That employee won't face criminal charges, Roby repeated on Wednesday, adding that his actions "without question" saved lives.

Lincoln police were at apartment minutes before Tuesday shooting, court records show

Koepke, by leaning against the door as Hoskinson tried to enter, likely saved lives, too, Roby said, "unfortunately giving his own life in the process."

Roby and Bockstadter both championed the quick actions of other Agrex employees, who provided immediate first aid and worked to evacuate areas surrounding the office.

They also complemented the efforts of first responders in Nuckolls County, who arrived at the grain elevator within minutes of the shooting, Roby said. 

Most of all, though, the two men saved their thanks for the community of 1,750 in south-central Nebraska, still reeling from the tragedy that claimed three lives

"That community has come together in the days following this tragic event," Roby said. 

Reach the writer at 402-473-7223 or awegley@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @andrewwegley

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A Kansas City, Missouri, native, Andrew Wegley joined the Journal Star as breaking news reporter after graduating from Northwest Missouri State University in May 2021.

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