The city of Milwaukee was today mourning America’s latest mass shooting after an employee stormed one of the country’s largest breweries and opened fire, killing five colleagues as they ended their shifts.
Workers spoke of the terrifying ordeal as the 51-year-old gunman began shooting inside the sprawling Molson Coors complex, before turning one of the weapons on himself.
US reports said the man had been sacked earlier in the day, although Molson Coors later said he was a current employee.
Police were called at 2pm local time to find one of the worst mass shootings in Wisconsin’s history. Employees learned via email eight minutes later that there was an active gunman lurking in their stairwell, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Horrified workers reportedly huddled in cupboards and behind locked doors, frantically texting family members and loved ones.
The Molson Coors facility, which is famous in a city well-known for its brewing tradition, was placed on lockdown for hours as police searched every one of the 1,000 workers who were there when the shooting took place.
Neighbouring buildings, including schools and other businesses, were also shut until police secured the complex.
One employee from the corporate office said: “We were sitting in our office and some of our co-workers started getting up and gathering at the windows and we see law enforcement with their guns drawn running towards the brewery.”
Selena Curka, who arrived to start work but was turned away, said: “We are all a family. We work a lot of hours together, so we’re all very sad.”
The campus, known as Miller Valley, has a 160-year-old brewery as well as packaging hub and a distribution centre bigger than five football fields.
Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett 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.”
Molson Coors CEO Gavin Hattersley has closed the plant for the rest of the week to allow employees to come to terms with the shooting. He also described the shooter as “an active brewery employee”.
He said: “Unfortunately, I am devastated to share that we lost five other members of our family in this tragic incident.”
President Donald Trump said: “Our hearts break for them and their loved ones. We send our condolences.”
The shooting was the fourth US mass killing this year. The attacks have claimed 18 lives in total.