Milwaukee: Gunman kills 5 at Molson Coors brewery before taking own life

Police work outside the Molson Coors Brewing Co. campus in Milwaukee on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, after reports of a possible shooting. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

By CARRIE ANTLFINGER and GRETCHEN EHLKE,  Associated Press  MILWAUKEE (AP) 02/26 — 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.

Milwaukee Police and Milwaukee Fire Dept. personnel respond to reports of an active shooting at the Molson Coors Brewing Co. campus in Milwaukee, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)

 

None of the victims was identified. Police, who were still contacting relatives, said identities would not be released for at least 24 hours. No one was wounded beyond those who were killed, authorities said.

Officers worked for hours to clear the more than 20 buildings in the complex where more than 1,000 people work. Police announced at a late evening news conference that the work was done and all employees had been allowed to go home. Police Chief Alfonso Morales said authorities believe the shooter acted alone.

President Donald Trump addressed the shooting before speaking at the White House about his administration’s efforts 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.”

The attack occurred at a sprawling complex that includes a mix of corporate offices and brewing facilities. The complex is widely known in the Milwaukee area as “Miller Valley,” a reference to the Miller Brewing Co. that is now part of Molson Coors.

Milwaukee police are responding to what they are calling a “critical incident” on the Molson Coors Brewing Co. campus amid reports of a possible shooting.

 

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.

A group of brewery employees gathered at a nearby bar to talk about what had happened.

“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 was about to start her shift when the complex went on lockdown and she was turned away.

“It’s just weird, because nine times out of 10 you’re going to know the shooter,” said another employee Thomas Milner. “It’s a tight-knit family. Within the brewery we all interact with each other.”

Milner was also on his way to work when the shooting happened, and he was turned away too.

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 newspaper 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.

This image provided by WISN-TV, police respond to a possible shooting at the Molson Coors Brewing Co. campus in Milwaukee on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. WISN-TV reported Wednesday that a Molson Coors employee received an email about an active shooter near one of the buildings. (WISN-TV via AP)

 

The facility is also home to corporate customer service, finance, human resources and engineering departments. 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.

Molson Coors announced in October that it planned to close a Denver office as part of a restructuring to eliminate 400 to 500 jobs. The reorganization was to benefit Milwaukee, which was expected to see hundreds of corporate and support jobs relocated there.

Before Wednesday’s shooting, there had been three mass killings nationwide in 2020, with 12 total victims. All have been shootings. In 2019, there were 44 mass killings, with 224 total victims. The Associated Press/USA TODAY/Northeastern University Mass Killings database tracks all U.S. homicides since 2006 involving four or more people killed, not including the offender, over 24 hours regardless of weapon, location, victim-offender relationship or motive.

The last mass shooting in the Milwaukee area was in August 2012, when white supremacist Wade Michael Page fatally shot six people and wounded four others at a Sikh temple in suburban Oak Creek. Page killed himself after being wounded in a shootout with police. The worst mass shooting in the area in the past 20 years was in 2005, when seven people were killed and four wounded at a church service in Brookfield, a Milwaukee suburb. The shooter killed himself.

Shortly before word of the brewery shooting broke, Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told reporters in suburban Franklin that state gun laws would not be changing despite a push by Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, to do so, according to a report in the Journal Sentinel.

Police work outside the Molson Coors Brewing Co. campus in Milwaukee on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, after reports of a possible shooting. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

 

Evers called lawmakers into special session late last year to consider expanding background checks and allowing guns to be taken from people deemed a threat. But the Republican-controlled Legislature adjourned without action. Fitzgerald later called the shootings “an act of evil,” the Journal Sentinel reported.

At a news conference outside Molson Coors, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said, “We shouldn’t accept this.” He took up the issue later on social media, tweeting: “Another avoidable uniquely American tragedy. It’s not normal, we should never accept it, and we should never relent when ‘leaders’ offer hollow thoughts and prayers but choose inaction.”

___

Associated Press writers Dave Kolpack in Fargo, North Dakota, Meghan Hoyer in Washington, Scott Bauer and Todd Richmond in Madison, Wisconsin, and Amy Forliti and Tim Sullivan in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

___

This story has been updated to correct the name of the company to Molson Coors Brewing Co., instead of MillerCoors.

https://apnews.com/8b6f867e5f52baf2b699f564d177e899

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in: Crime & Criminals, Deaths, Homicide, Mass Casualty Attacks, Murder/Attempted Murder, Shootings, Victims of Crime, Workplace Violence

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

thirteen + 2 =

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.