Hours before Molson Coors shooting, Wisconsin lawmakers said state's gun laws won't change

Steve Kiggins and Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY

The city of Milwaukee is in mourning after a brewery employee fatally shot five people at the city's Molson Coors campus before killing himself Wednesday in one of the worst mass shootings in Wisconsin history.

Mayor Tom Barrett called it the "saddest day" in the 165-year history of the iconic "Miller Valley," where a massive red Miller sign towers over a sprawling complex that includes one of the nation's largest breweries and packaging and distribution centers.

Just hours before the rampage, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers called on lawmakers to take up legislation aimed at keeping guns away from people who are dangerous.

In response, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, made it clear that Wisconsin's gun laws would not change under a Republican-controlled Legislature, reminding voters of the longstanding divide that all but ensures deadly incidents like Wednesday's aren't going to spur new gun policies anytime soon.

"We’re going to have that discussion about the Second Amendment forever," Fitzgerald told reporters in Franklin, about an hour before the killings. "A lot of the provisions that are in place already, people are satisfied with."

A short time after, a 51-year-old man entered the factory with two handguns, opening fire on employees.

Now the community is left grieving.

“We are all a family. We work a lot of hours together, so we’re all very sad,” said employee Selena Curka, who was turned away from work when the complex went on lockdown following reports of the shooting.

Here is what we know about the mass shooting:

Who are the victims?

The five victims were all employees of Molson Coors Beverage Co., which was renamed from MillerCoors in 2019. Authorities have not released their names.

“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,” Barrett said.

On Wednesday night, Morales told reporters to respect the privacy of the victims’ families and allow them to grieve for their lost loved ones.

“Milwaukee is grieving today,” Police Chief Alfonso Morales told reporters

Who was the gunman?

Police have not released his name, saying only that he was a 51-year-old brewery employee. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Morales said.

What happened, and why?

Authorities did not immediately offer a motive for the gunman’s actions or share details about the incident.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel of the USA TODAY Network reported that employees were notified by email that an active shooter was in or near the second-floor stairwell of the factory’s Building 4. The suspect and victims were found dead in the same building, Morales said.

What type of gun was used in the attack?

The Journal Sentinel, citing a police source, said the shooter was armed with two handguns, including one with a silencer. The make and model of the weapons, however, remained unknown early Thursday.

Silencers or suppressors are legal in 42 states, including Wisconsin, but must be registered under the National Firearms Act. According to the latest federal report, more than 29,000 were registered in the Badger State, the Journal Sentinel reported.

What’s the history of mass shootings in Wisconsin?

Wednesday’s shooting marked the state’s 11th mass shooting since 2004 but the first in Milwaukee in nearly eight years.

In August 2012, a white supremacist killed six people and injured four others at a Sikh temple in suburban Oak Creek before killing himself after being wounded in a shootout with police.

Seven years earlier, a man fatally shot seven people and wounded four others at a church service inside the Sheraton Hotel in Brookfield, another Milwaukee suburb, the area's deadliest mass shooting in the past 20 years.

Contributing: Molly Beck and Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Milwaukee shooting: What we know about Molson Coors' 'saddest day'