MIDDLETON -- A shooter opened fire inside a software company in Middleton on Wednesday, Sept. 19, wounding four people before responding officers fatally shot the Madison man as his co-workers ran from the office building or hid inside, according to police and witnesses. UW Health officials said two victims were in serious condition, one in critical condition and a fourth person was grazed.
On Deming way, sheer panic consumed hundreds Wednesday morning.
"Very shaky, nervous. It went really fast even though it was a good length of time," said Marlene Mecum, works at IMEG nearby.
Middleton Police Chief Chuck Foulke said officers were alerted to an active-shooter situation at WTS Paradigm around 10:25 a.m. Foulke said the suspect was taken to a hospital after being shot by officers but later died. He said there were no other suspects in the attack.
Police said the suspect had no criminal background. The employee opened fire inside the computer programming company with 100 workers. Roughly 8 minutes later, police made contact with the suspect, who they said fired at officers. Two officers and two deputies fired back.
"It makes me feel really bad. They weren't doing anything wrong," said Spencer Ray.
Foulke didn't release details about a possible motive or how the attack unfolded in Middleton, a city just west of Madison. He said officers were still conducting interviews after witnesses and other people at the scene were taken in school buses to a nearby hotel.
At first, Mecum said she didn't process the startling sound of gunfire.
"When we heard the first one, you kind of think, and then there were several thereafter. We were like 'yes, there are several gunshots going off,'" said Mecum.
Judy Lahmers, a business analyst at WTS Paradigm, said she was working at her desk when she heard what sounded "like somebody was dropping boards on the ground, really loud." Lahmers said she ran out of the building and hid behind a car.
She said the building's glass entrance door was shattered.
Mecum and her co-workers were preparing to celebrate a baby shower. Instead, they locked their door as police descended on buildings in the area.
"Anybody could still get in, but we figured it's locked. We're in one area. Stay away from the windows," said Mecum.
Mecum, a mother of four, hid and focused on contacting family.
"I wanted to make sure my kids knew I was OK," said Mecum.
Employees were shuffled out of the commercial building in droves.
"We saw one person that was really bloodied being escorted out to one of the ambulances," said Mecum.
Two hospitals in Madison said they were initially treating five people from the shooting: one who was in critical condition early Wednesday afternoon, two who were in serious condition, and one whose condition wasn't released. The fifth person was a walk-in patient who was treated and released.
Many were in disbelief.
"It's just really shocking to happen in Middleton. It's really unfortunate. I just wish the best for (the victims) and their families," said Ray.
Three yellow school buses full of more than 100 people, including witnesses, were unloaded at a hotel about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the office building. Some people hugged as they were reunited with loved ones. Others stopped to pet a dog that had been brought by someone picking up a worker.