Unthinkable happens 3 dead after shooting spree
October 28, 2021
The highway which passes The Superior Express office has been unusually quiet in recent days. It seems like fewer local people have been visiting the office, fewer grain trucks have been rolling by traveling between field and elevator.
The weather and heavily overcast sky is probably to blame for most of the decrease but it fits the somber mood of the community following the tragic events of Thursday afternoon. Area residents are still trying to make sense of the senseless—a shooting spree that left two Agrex elevator employees dead and the shooter, a man who earlier that day had been an Agrex employee, also dead.
Such events happen in the cities, not in agricultural communities like Superior.
Area residents with emergency services radios were stunned when when they heard the dispatcher report gunshots had been fired in the Agrex office and three people were down.
South bound motorists approaching Superior on Highway 14 realized something bad must have happened when state patrol vehicles with emergency lights flashing and trailing news reporters went speeding around them.
Even before we knew what was happening, The Express office telephone lines lit up with reporters calling to ask what we had learned about the incident. An Express employee was on a call talking to a Smith Center bank employee when the call for help was sounded. She ended the call and promised to call back. Before the call was replaced about 15 minutes later, the bank employee had received more than one call reporting a shooting in Superior. The word had rapidly spread around the world.
But what happened? What was the cause? We are still trying to find the answers to those questions.
In reality, we will probably never have all our questions answered.
But this is what we think we have learned.
Max Hoskinson, the 61-year-old head grain buyer at the Agrex elevator located at the east edge of Superior, was terminated on Thursday morning. He returned to the office armed with a handgun shortly before 2 p,m. and began shooting at co-workers. Likely 10 or so employees were working at the elevator and two trucks loaded with soybeans were being unloaded.
Had it been earlier in the week, there would have been a long line of trucks waiting to unload. But on Wednesday the elevator’s available corn bins were filled and customers told the elevator would not be able to receive more corn until a train was loaded. That was expected to have happened by Monday.
More lives would likely have been lost had an elevator employee not grabbed a shotgun used at the elevator to ward off varmints and fired at the shooter.
State Patrol Capt. Jeff Roby said the employee’s action prevented further loss of life. At a press conference held Friday, Roby said, “We had an active shooter inside a business and it was stopped.” John Hodge, the Nuckolls County attorney, and the state attorney general have been quoted as saying they do not expect to charge the intervening elevator employee. He has not been identified.
Why Hoskinson was fired during the height of the grain harvest and what prompted him to return to the elevator with a pistol and open fire has not been answered.
The Omaha World-Herald reported on Saturday, that Hoskinson had a history of “outbursts” with fellow employees.
The first to die was a fellow grain merchandiser, Sandy Nelson. The two had worked closely together. A 1979 Superior High School graduate, she was a resident of the Formoso area. Her funeral will be held today. Her obituary is printed elsewhere in this issue. She was pronounced dead while still in the elevator office.
Also killed with Darin Koepe, 53, of Hadar, Neb. He apparently was in Superior to participate in the firing. He was airlifted from Superior to a Lincoln hospital with life threatening wounds. He died later Thursday at Bryan Medical Center’s west campus. His obituary is also printed in this issue.
The third one injured, a male employee, was treated for a gunshot wound at Brodstone Memorial Hospital and released. He has not been identified.
Hoskinson was taken to Brodstone Hospital where he died later Thursday.
The elevator was closed following the shooting. The company’s website indicated the office phone lines would reopen Monday afternoon but The Express has been unable to get through. At presstime Tuesday, the website did not indicate when the elevator would reopen.
There apparently were at least three additional people in the office. It would have been normal for about 10 employees to have been at work when the shooting began.
Amidst the tragedy, there are bright spots.
Ed Hall, Sandy Nelson’s older brother posted on social media:”My sister Debby and I were sitting here this morning struggling hard with the past few days. I prayed thanking God for being with us and to please let us know he is here! Sandy’s daughter-in-law posted what we needed to hear about a minute after I finished, and then this came up.
“Thank you God for telling us you are here, and you are holding us in your arms and helping us through this time.
“A while back I read a story of a visiting pastor who attended a men’s breakfast in the middle of a rural farming area of the country.
“The group had asked an older farmer, decked out in bib overalls, to say grace for the morning breakfast.
“’Lord, I hate buttermilk’, the farmer began. The visiting pastor opened one eye to glance at the farmer and wonder where this was going. The farmer loudly proclaimed, ‘Lord, I hate lard.’ Now the pastor was growing concerned. Without missing a beat, the farmer continued, ‘And Lord, you know I don’t much care for raw white flour.’
“The pastor once again opened an eye to glance around the room and saw that he wasn’t the only one to feel uncomfortable.
“Then the farmer added, ‘But Lord, when you mix them all together and bake them, I do love warm fresh biscuits. So Lord, when things come up that we don’t like, when life gets hard, when we don’t understand what you’re saying to us, help us to just relax and wait until you are done mixing. It will probably be even better than biscuits. Amen.’
“Within that prayer there is great wisdom for all when it comes to complicated situations like we are experiencing in the world today.
“Stay strong, my friends, because our LORD is mixing several things that we don’t really care for, but something even better is going to come when HE is done with it. AMEN”
Eric Krotzinger, the elevator’s superintendent, posted on social media,
“I was told to stay off and away from social media. I listened mostly, but I just cannot do it. I need to tell this story of the kindness and gratitude. The goodness in life needs to be spread for the rest of world to see.
“We were scheduled to tarp our bunker Friday morning but we canceled the install.
“Soles Enterprises from Brandon, S.D. couldn’t stand to see a perfectly good bunker of corn go to waste. They know the blood and sweat and countless hours and dollars our farmers put into that grain that feeds the world. They responded back and said they were bringing extra crew members and were getting our tarp installed. Told us to not worry about a thing, it’s taken care of.
“From the bottom of my heart, my crew and my Agrex family, and all the farmers that hauled that corn in, We are thankful! I am forever in your debt.
“Soles Enterprises is a family owned company and I have had the privilege to meet the father, daughter and son! They have earned everyone’s business in my mind. You can do all you want for them. Donations, cards, thank you’s, anything. I just want them to be known for their kind generosity.
The second outfit I have to thank is Saathoff Construction for lending the equipment to make the install easier. And Billy Paxton for operating the equipment and doing more for the job than any man needs to do!”
When the call for help was sounded, members of the Superior Police Department, The Nuckolls County Sheriff’s Department, the Nebraska State Patrol, and Superior and Nelson fire departments answered.