MILWAUKEE -- A spokesman for Molson Coors on Tuesday, March 3 addressed the fatal workplace shooting that took the lives of five employees Wednesday, Feb. 26 -- speaking with FOX6 News a day after employees returned to work.
"What happened last week was horrifying," said Adam Collins, Molson Coors' chief of communications. "It's hard to put into words the grief, and the trauma, and emotion that people are feeling. We’re all grieving. We lost teammates, lost friends, lost co-workers. That is hard. We lost them at work, in a place for a lot of people feels at home."
Collins said company leaders were focused on helping employees and their families in the wake of this tragedy. He spoke with FOX6 News a day after the business reopened, and employees were given the option to return to work if ready.
"The last few days have not been about brewing beer, or about shipping cases, or about packaging bottles," said Collins. "It’s been about care. It’s been about bringing people back together. We've had employee assistance and counseling since the event happened."
On Wednesday, Feb. 26, police said a 51-year-old Miller Brewery employee opened fire at work, killing five of his co-workers, Dale Hudson, Gene Levshetz, Jesus Valle, Jr., Dana Walk, and Trevor Wetselaar. Police said the shooter was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
"There's nothing more important than making sure people have that support as they cope with what happened, as they grapple with what led to it," said Collins.
On Tuesday, what may have prompted the shooting in the first place wasn't revealed by company leaders.
"The police have asked us not to speculate about what had precipitated before the shooting, so I want to be respectful of that," said Collins.
The Molson Coors official did say a noose was found in the shooter's locker in 2015. It's not known who placed the noose there.
"Absolutely, flatly cannot be accepted," said Collins.
"The employee was not working that day," said Collins. "It was an off day. HR brought it to his attention. We investigated it fully. We looked at camera angles to understand who may have placed it there... taking action that way. It was inconclusive, unfortunately."
"We communicated with brewery leadership and brewery employees. Made sure they knew this behavior would not be tolerated," Collins said.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett spoke with reporters about the shooting on Tuesday afternoon.
"We have six families that continue to grieve after that tragedy that occurred at Miller last week," said Mayor Barrett. "Obviously, this is a very active investigation as they're trying to determine a motive and facts surrounding this case. When I spoke to the chief this morning I emphasized to him and to others how important it is for us to get whatever information we can out as quickly as we can, at the same time being respectful of the families who have been devastated by the worst incident they've ever experienced in their entire life. What I know is that this situation is something the brewery is dealing with, and I expect Molson Coors will address any concerns there. Right now, I continue to focus on the families who are grieving right now. Clearly, we want to know answers to what the motives are and anything that's involved. I want the public to know. I want the public to know everything I know. As I get more information, I certainly will share it with the public."
Collins said company leaders were continuing to work on being an open and welcoming company -- with an inclusive culture. He said in the wake of the shooting, workers were touched by the support from the community.
"As we're all grieving, it is definitely felt," said Collins. "That love and support, that care is absolutely felt by employees and by this company."
Collins said production was slowly being ramped back up in the Miller Valley, but officials would continue to take things day by day.
FOX6 News on Tuesday reached out to Milwaukee police for an update on the investigation. MPD issued this statement to WMTV in Madison:
"Please keep in mind that this is still an open investigation and that it is being actively investigated. At this time, it is undetermined if race played a factor in this incident."
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.
Help for the victims' families
Molson Coors established a GoFundMe 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