MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Strong was the theme of a vigil outside City Hall in downtown Milwaukee Sunday, March 1 in honor of the five Molson Coors employees who were gunned down by a co-worker on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at the sprawling brewery complex on Milwaukee's west side. This, with the office scheduled to reopen Monday, March 2 — with workers having the option to return if they're ready -- with extra security throughout the Miller Valley.
Authorities identified the victims as 60-year-old Dale Hudson; 61-year-old Gene Levshetz; 33-year-old Jesus Valle Jr.; 57-year-old Dana Walk; and 33-year-old Trevor Wetselaar.
A crowd stood in unity Saturday night, praying for peace and strength for the victims' families as they move forward amid a "new normal." Many never knew the five men who never came home from work.
"We must be the peace we so desperately seek," said Reggie Moore with the City of Milwaukee's Office of Violence Prevention. "We must be the peace that we so desperately need."
From Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, to Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales, to Senator Tammy Baldwin, leaders offered guidance, as representatives from all denominations led prayers for the victims.
"We must remember these individuals, but we must go on as a community together," said Mayor Barrett.
"For you, we pray for you, and may God bless you," said Chief Morales.
A chant of solidarity, "Unity, love, and respect," led by Tracey Dent, community activist echoed as strangers found comfort in each other.
"As we return to work tomorrow, these families will go on with a new normal," said Pardeep Kaleka with the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, who lost his father in the 2012 Sikh Temple shooting in Oak Creek. "If we don't become better as a society from their sacrifice, then their lives will be lost in vain."
Community members reflect on the tragedy
"This just affects everybody," said Joseph Jackson.
"It's such a tragic event," said Vincent Bobot. "Words don't explain it."
"Of course, it's sad and very emotional," said Bonnie Bobot. "Wanted to come here today to show support and love for the victims and family members."
"You hear about workplace shootings and work shootings in our country," said Tom Graves. "When it's in our own backyard, it hits kind of hard."
Kelly Coleman and her young grandson were among those in the crowd.
"We hurt for the city of Milwaukee," said Coleman. "I'm bringing him here so he can learn empathy, so he can stand with other people to pray, and remember all of the lives lost. I hope people will leave with a new attitude."
"You can see there is a lot of support from Milwaukee," said Vincent Bobot. "People from Milwaukee have not given up."
About the victims
Dale Hudson left behind a wife. He was a 2001 graduate of MATC -- and a long-time member of IBEW 494.
Gene Levshetz was a beloved husband, father, and grandfather. According to his obituary, Levshetz was a kind, caring, and giving person who always put his family's needs before his own. The Levshetz family issued the following statement:
"The Levshetz family is devastated by the loss of their deeply loved husband, father, grandfather, brother, and uncle. We appreciate the outpouring of support from friends and family and respectfully ask for privacy as we try to come to terms with this unimaginable loss."
Jesus Valle leaves behind a wife, two young children, and many family members. FOX6 News spoke with Valle's cousin who shared some of his favorite memories -- and a message to the community.
Dana Walk was also a loving husband and father of three. His union described Walk as an avid fisherman and a devout journeyman.
Trevor Wetselaar was a loving husband, decorated Navy veteran, and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Support for victims' families from bars, restaurants
Dugout 54 fundraiser
Customers who purchased Miller products at Dugout 54 on Bluemound Road near Hawley Road and about a dozen other bars in the Greater Milwaukee area Saturday night, Feb. 29 donated a portion of their payment to a fund for the families.
"The tragedy is unbelievable, and we're just trying to give back to the families that support us," said Dave Grycan, co-owner. "Another senseless act of violence -- for what?"
"It was very surprising, very shocking," said Jeff Voss, customer. "I think it`s great, as the community is coming together."
Some were only able to donate the few coins and dollars they had to spare -- wishing they could do more for those feeling the pain most.
"Everybody's been very supportive," said Grycan.
"Milwaukee will probably always remember this," said Voss.
Brew City Brand T-shirts
Brew City Brand is supporting the victims of the Miller Brewery shooting with #MillerStrong T-shirts.
Wisconsin Harley-Davidson fundraiser
Wisconsin Harley-Davidson scheduled a St. Patrick's-themed March 17 fundraiser to collect monetary donations for the families from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wisconsin Harley will donate $1 of every green Miller Lite beer sold to the families affected by the shooting.
Monetary donations can be made through the event’s website here.
Butler 6-year-old creates cards
A Butler kindergartener made it her mission to create cards for every Miller employee -- using her creativity to show support.
Aris Sports Bar fundraiser
At Aris Sports Bar in West Allis, organizers planned to donate half of the bar's weekend proceeds following the shooting to the victims' families, and organizers planned the same at Pallas Restaurant.
McBob's Pub and Grill fundraiser
Erin Reynolds, manager at McBob's Pub and Grill started a collection for the victims' families.
"We're running a special, between now and Sunday night (March 1), $1 of all Miller Coors sales, $1 of each sale, will go to the families -- to the victims of this tragedy," Reynolds said.
Monday, March 2 vigil at Gesu
A community vigil was scheduled for Monday, March 2, beginning at 5 p.m. at the Church of the Gesu (1145 W. Wisconsin Avenue).
Doors open at 4:30 p.m. with a program to begin at 5 p.m. Pastor Lisa Bates-Froiland from Redeemer Lutheran Church will preside over the vigil. Reflections will also be offered by community and spiritual leaders, including Marquette President Michael Lovell.
Everyone is welcome.
Help for the victims' families
Molson Coors established a GoFundMe Friday dedicated to the family members of those lost in Wednesday's tragedy, donating $500,000 to victims' families. That puts the Miller Valley Survivors Fund halfway to its goal of $1,000,000.
If you are interested in donating to the Miller Valley Survivors Fund, CLICK HERE.
Resources and support
- Milwaukee County 24 Hour Mental Health Crisis Line: 414-257-7222
- Milwaukee Child Mobile Crisis and Trauma Response Team: 414-257-7621
- National Crisis Text Line: text HOPELINE to 741741 to text with a trained Crisis Counselor.
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255.
- City of Milwaukee Health Department’s Office of Violence Prevention: www.milwaukee.gov/staysafe