MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee police officials identified the five Molson Coors employees who were gunned down during a mass shooting Wednesday at the company’s complex.
Police Chief Alfonso Morales identified the shooting victims as Jesus Valle Jr., 33, Gennady Levshetz, 61, Trevor Wetselaar, 33, Dana Walk, 57, and Dale Hudson, 60. All the victims were employees of the company and were found in the same building.
The suspected gunman was identified as 51-year-old Anthony Ferrill, who was an employee of Molson Coors at the time of the incident. According to employee records, Ferrill was an electrician at the company for 17 years. He was wearing his uniform at the time of the shooting.
Officials said the gunman opened fire before turning the gun on himself.
“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,” Mayor Tom Barrett said at a press conference.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the gunman was armed with two handguns — one equipped with a silencer. Silencers are legal in 42 states, including in Wisconsin.
Rumors have been flying on social media claiming Ferrill had felt discriminated against at work because he was a black man. However, he had never filed any kind of civil rights complaint against the company, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The Journal Sentinel reported he had a fight with a co-worker before the shooting.
On Thursday, police removed evidence from Ferrill’s home. Neighbors said he often carried a gun.
Morales said they are still investigating the motive behind the shooting.
Shooting reports came in at 2:08 p.m.
More than 1,000 people were working at the campus when police received reports of a shooting at 2:08 p.m. local time, Morales said. The complex includes a mix of corporate offices and brewing facilities.
Minutes later, employees received texts and emails from the company warning them about the gunman.
“Active shooter, find a safe place, active shooter on campus. Reply with YES to confirm receipt,” the first text read.
“Active shooter We are still on lockdown, please remain in a safe place, police are investigating. Reply with YES to confirm receipt,” another one said.
Scores of police officers, SWAT teams and FBI agents rushed to the scene and could be seen walking around the Miller Valley neighborhood, which is named after the iconic 160-year-old brewery.
First responders called it a ‘war zone’
Fire dispatch audio described a chaotic scene with first responders calling it a “war zone.”
“Start the casualty collection at this point … and let’s start working out getting some meds in here,” a voice says.
When police arrived at the scene, they screened employees and checked them off one by one before securing the area hours later and allowing them to go home, CNN affiliate WITI said.
Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said the incident marks the 11th mass shooting in Wisconsin since 2004.
“We are here on the scene of another American tragedy. Another senseless American tragedy. One that shouldn’t have to happen and unfortunately it’s in our backyard. And I hate to say that it is in our backyard once again,” he said.
When the shooting happened, Molson Coors was hosting an annual conference in Texas. Company CEO Gavin Hattersley was at the event and suddenly announced he was leaving, according to a source familiar with the company.
The corporate offices will be closed for the rest of the week and the breweries will remain closed until further notice.
“This is an unthinkable tragedy for us,” Hattersley said.
Prayer vigil held for shooting victims
A prayer vigil for the victims was held at The Ridge Community Church — about 10 miles from the Molson Coors site.
The church seated 800, and hundreds of people were in attendance including family, friends and first responders.