MILWAUKEE – In one of the worst shootings in Wisconsin history, five people were killed Wednesday by a gunman during a rampage on the Milwaukee campus of Molson Coors.
The gunman died by suicide, bringing the total of known dead so far to six. Initial accounts from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel indicated at least seven had died, but that number has since been clarified.
The shooter was a 51-year-old Milwaukee man who died of a gunshot wound, Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said.
Molson Coors CEO Gavin Hattersley called the shooter “an active brewery employee.”
“Unfortunately, I am devastated to share that we lost five other members of our family in this tragic incident,” he said in an email sent to employees. “There are no words to express the deep sadness many of us are feeling right now.” He said the office would be closed the rest of the week and the brewery shuttered “for the time being” to give people time to cope.
The scene was chaotic two hours after the initial report of an active shooter. Live video showed an officer in body armor getting an assault rifle out of a car. Canines were on the scene. Helicopters hovered near the sprawling complex, which includes corporate offices and brewing facilities.
The killer’s motive was unknown and names of the victims have not yet been released.
“There were five individuals who went to work today, just like everybody goes to work, and they thought they were going to go to work, finish their day and return to their families. They didn’t – and tragically they never will,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.
The sprawling “Miller Valley” campus includes a 160-year-old brewery, underground caves, a Bavarian-style inn and a seasonal outdoor beer garden. Molson Coors is one of the world’s largest brewers and stands as an iconic name in the beer business.
“We are all a family. We work a lot of hours together, so we’re all very sad,” said Selena Curka, a brewery employee who went with friends to a local bar to talk about what happened after the shooting. She was about to start her shift when the complex went on lockdown and she was turned away.
President Donald Trump addressed the shooting at an early evening press conference, saying, “Our hearts break for them and their loved ones. We send our condolences. … It’s a terrible thing, terrible thing. So our hearts go out to the people of Wisconsin, and to the families.”
Alderman Russell Stamper said in a statement that “the vile and heinous deadly violence that was perpetrated at the brewery complex today has no place in our society and makes no sense.”
The shooting comes just after the anniversary of a deadly shooting in Aurora, Illinois. On Feb. 15, 2019, an employee opened fire in the Henry Pratt manufacturing plant in Aurora, killing five co-workers and injuring six other people, including one worker and five policemen. After a 90-minute shoot-out, officers killed the gunman.
“The cold disregard for human lives and the lack of value for human life that was shown must be categorically denounced across Milwaukee, across Wisconsin and throughout our nation,” Stamper said.
Molson Coors Beverage Co. was formerly known as MillerCoors, before a 2019 name change.
James Boyles spoke with the Journal Sentinel. He said his wife, Lasonya Ragdales, works at Molson Coors in the claims department. She has been told that there was an active shooter and that she was locked in a room with co-workers. She was texting him from inside the building.
Paramedic units from Milwaukee and West Allis were dispatched to the scene along with officers from the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, Marquette University Police Department and the U.S. Marshals. Officials with the FBI and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also on the scene.
Multiple nearby schools were locked down.