MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WFLA/AP/WITI) — An employee opened fire Wednesday at one of the nation’s largest breweries in Milwaukee, killing five fellow workers before taking his own life, police said.
The assailant who attacked the Molson Coors complex was identified as a 51-year-old Milwaukee man who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.
“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.
Authorities offered no immediate motive for the attack and did not release details about the shooter or how the shooting unfolded.
The names of the victims were not released Wednesday, due to family notifications.
On Wednesday evening, police were screening people and checking off workers one by one — an arduous task. Chief Morales said more than 1,000 were working at the time.
“We have several people we need to talk to, and we have to go through a roll call and identify who’s missing,” said Chief Morales.
Officers were working to clear the more than 20 buildings in the complex where more than 1,000 people work. Police Chief Alfonso Morales said authorities believe the shooter operated alone and that the threat was over.
“It’s a terrible day for Milwaukeeans, and I pass on my condolences to the families of the employees of Miller, and to the employees of Miller, or Molson Coors,” said Chief Morales.
An employee told WITI the Milwaukee campus would remain closed for the rest of the week. WITI obtained this letter from Molson Coors CEO Gavin Hattersley:
President Donald Trump addressed the shooting before speaking at the White House with reporters about steps his administration is taking to combat the coronavirus.
“Our hearts break for them and their loved ones,” the president said. “We send our condolences. We’ll be with them, and it’s a terrible thing, a terrible thing.”
“This is a tragic day for our city,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “This is a tragic day for our state. Five families, six families, actually, are grieving and will be grieving because of this horrific act of this individual. This is a time for us to think about those families because there are 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.”
The shooting occurred at a sprawling complex that includes a mix of corporate offices and brewing facilities. At least 600 people work at the complex, which is widely known in the Milwaukee area as “Miller Valley,” a reference to the Miller Brewing Co. that is now part of Molson Coors.
“This is gut wrenching,” Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said in a statement. “My heart goes out to Molson Coors employees, their families, and the entire Milwaukee community. The DOJ Division of Criminal Investigation is on the scene and will continue assisting local law enforcement with whatever they need.”
James Boyles told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that his wife, Lasonya Ragdales, works at Molson Coors in the claims department. She was texting from inside the facility and told her husband that there was an active shooter and she was locked in a room with a bunch of co-workers, the Journal Sentinel reported.
“Miller Valley” features a 160-year-old brewery, with a packaging center that fills thousands of cans and bottles every minute and a distribution center the size of five football fields. A massive red Miller sign towers over the complex and is a well-known symbol in Milwaukee, where beer and brewing are intertwined in the city’s history.
The facility is also home to corporate customer service, finance, human resources and engineering. Tours take people to underground caves where beer was once stored, a saloon with intricate woodwork, a stein hall with stained-glass windows, a champagne room meeting hall with leaded-glass windows, and an outdoor beer garden that can hold 300 people.
This is a developing story stick with WFLA for updates.