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Kansas Shooting Victim Brian Sadowsky Was Loyal, Caring and Funny, Friends Say

Kansas Shooting Victim Brian Sadowsky: Friends Remember Loyal and Caring Man
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02/26/2016 AT 03:10 PM EST

Friends of 44-year-old Brian Sadowsky, one of the three people killed Thursday evening in a workplace shooting at the Excel Industries plant in Hesston, Kansas, say he had a biting sense of humor, rabidly rooted for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and would drop whatever he was doing to help those in need.

Friend Jeffrey Beltran tells PEOPLE he is still in a state of shock since finding out Sadowsky was one of the three innocent people killed during a two-town shooting rampage by Cedric Ford, 38, who was shot dead by authorities.

By phone, Brian's mother, Loretta Sadowsky, also confirms that her son was killed in Thursday's mass shooting.

Brian Sadowsky, who lived in Newton, was "a real fun guy to be around," Beltran says. "He was a big football fan and loved his Steelers. He also loved his family very much. His sense of humor was dark, but really funny."

Sadowsky cherished his friendships, those that knew him say, and his actions showed that, says Beltran.

"He was always there for people who needed his help," Beltran says. "He would help you in a heartbeat. You could call him at any hour and he'd be there for you."

David Oppenheimer also knew Sadowsky and agrees that his friend was "a little rough around the edges" at times, but that he was a kind soul who was "always there to help."

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Says Oppenheimer: "He was a big teddy bear once you got to know him."

His friends all tell PEOPLE that Sadowsky was a recovering addict who'd been clean and sober for many years. They say he was instrumental in helping many others conquer their addictions.

Oppenheimer admits that Sadowsky's friendship got him through his own struggles with addiction.

"We grew up together but became really close in the meetings," Oppenheimer says. "He was always there and he always had the right thing to say. He's why I am still clean and sober today. He did things for so many people. I think he's a real American hero."

Oppenheimer says Sadowsky pulled some strings to get him a job at Excel. Several of his co-workers claim they saw his friend's murder: Sadowsky was apparently helping one of the wounded when he was shot to death.

"But that was him ... he couldn't not help people," says Oppenheimer. "It was in his nature. He's going to be missed by a lot of people in this community."
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