Milwaukee, WI – Six people were fatally shot, including the gunman, on Wednesday at the Milwaukee headquarters of Molson Coors Beverage Company.
The incident began just before 2:15 p.m. on Feb. 26 on the brewing company campus near North 35th Street and West Highland Boulevard, WISN reported.
Sources told WISN that the gunman was a Molson Coors employee who was fired earlier in the day.
The sources said the newly-terminated employee left the headquarters and returned later with a gun, WISN reported.
Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said at a press conference on Wednesday evening that officers responded quickly to the scene and found the 51-year-old gunman dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“We believe the target is down,” Chief Morales told reporters but then went on to say they had not confirmed that there were no other suspects and urged patience while law enforcement officers continued to clear buildings on the expansive campus.
As of 7 p.m., most Molson Coors employees were still being held on the company’s campus waiting to be released by authorities, according to the police chief.
“Please understand that Molson Coors is a large company with over 1,000 employees who were working when this occurred,” Chief Morales explained.
He said police had to do a roll call to figure out who was missing.
The chief said agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) were on the scene assisting local law enforcement agencies with the investigation.
Chief Morales did not release the identity of the gunman, nor did he identify any of the victims of the massacre pending notification of their families.
He said that all of the victims were employees of Molson Coors.
“It’s a terrible day for Milwaukeeans and I pass on my condolences to the families of the employees of Miller, and the employees of Molson Coors,” the police chief said.
Molson Coors Beverage Company was formerly known as MillerCoors, and officials and news outlets have been using the names interchangeably as they release information.
Chief Morales told reporters that no other people were injured as a result of the shooting spree.
The chief promised to release more information at a press conference later in the evening.
People who were there when the gunman opened fired described a terrifying and chaotic scene at the brewing company, WITI reported.
A witness who was an army veteran said that he was only 15 feet away from another employee who was shot in the head during the incident.
Another witness told WITI that he saw bodies lying all over the ground outside the facility.
Fire department radio traffic captured the initial panic after the shootings occurred, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
“I just overheard on the radio seven – seven – victims,” a fire commander told the dispatcher. “We might want to get some more med units here.”
“Start building rescue task forces,” another fire commander said over the radio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Moments later yet another fire commander reported to dispatchers that the shooter was down.
“I just had a police officer inform me that the shooter committed suicide and [the officer] believes they have six victims besides the shooter,” the fire commander said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Then a commander requested more medic units.
“Start the casualty collection point and let’s start working on getting med rigs [paramedic units] in here,” he told the dispatcher.
Police set up a staging area for employees to be reunified with their family members who have been waiting out in the bitter cold outside the police perimeter for hours, WITI reported.
The lockdown was being lifted one building at a time as officers cleared the buildings on the campus.
Nearby schools also went into lockdown after the shootings, including Marquette University High School and Story Elementary School.
Several blocks around the large corporate headquarters and bottling facility were blocked off with crime scene tape and multiple bus routes through the city were affected, WITI reported.
Froedtert Hospital, the only Level 1 trauma center in eastern Wisconsin, said they had received no victims at all from the incident, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Milwaukee Alderman Russell Stamper, who represents the district where Molson Coors is located, told reporters outside the scene that he felt “sad” and “hurt.”
“This is not a good day right now,” Stamper said and told reporters it was too early to talk about what was going on behind the police line tape.
He later released a written statement on the senseless murders.
“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 alderman’s statement read. “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.”
Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes called the Ash Wednesday massacre “another senseless American tragedy.”
Barnes told reporters the shooting at the brewery was the eleventh mass shooting in Wisconsin since 2004 and called it “preventable.”