Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales reads the names of the five victims of Wednesday's MolsonCoors shooting during a Thursday afternoon press conference. (Screenshot from WITI-TV)
Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales reads the names of the five victims of Wednesday's MolsonCoors shooting during a Thursday afternoon press conference. (Screenshot from WITI-TV)

Five MolsonCoors employees killed by co-worker with history of conflicts

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales on Thursday identified the five victims of Wednesday’s mass shooting at the MolsonCoors campus in Milwaukee, historically known as the Miller Brewery.

The victims are Jesus Valle, Jr., 33, of Milwaukee; Gennady Levshet, 51, of Mequon; Trevor Wetselaar, 33, of Milwaukee; Dana Walk, 57, of Delafield; and Dale Hudson, 50, of Waukesha.

Morales identified the shooter as Anthony Ferrill, a 51-year-old Milwaukee resident and MolsonCoors electrician. Initial media reports said Ferrill was a disgruntled former employee, but Morales said Ferrill was currently employed at MolsonCoors at the time of the shooting. He killed himself at the scene.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett asked for the community to support MolsonCoors and its employees in the shooting’s wake. The company has been a Milwaukee staple for more than 150 years.

“They’ve been there for us, and it’s now time for us to be there for them,” Barrett said.

Morales and Barrett said the motive behind the attack is still under investigation.

MolsonCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley said the victims’ families “are our single and No. 1 priority at the moment.”

Gavin Hattersley, president and CEO of MolsonCoors, speaks during a Thursday afternoon press conference a day after a mass shooting took place at the company’s Milwaukee campus. (Screenshot from WTMJ)

In a phone call with UpNorthNews, state Rep. David Bowen, D-Milwaukee, called for common-sense gun reform and the establishment of a state violence prevention fund that would disburse money to local municipalities. The programs have been proven to be effective, he said.

“All violence is preventable,” Bowen said.

In the Sept. 2019 Marquette Law School poll, 80 percent of respondents supported universal background checks on gun sales. Referencing the legislature’s inaction on gun reform despite overwhelming support from residents, Bowen added, “We’re ignoring things that we know would work.”

“I do leave some of the blame on the public that has yet to give the outrage, day of reckoning necessary so we can no longer ignore the issue,” he said. “That’s an absurd way to live” when the public normalizes mass shootings.

Preventing certain people from getting guns is not about infringing on Second Amendment rights, Bowen said. He said he wants dangerous people to “have to move heaven and Earth” to get a gun.

Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, is chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is a 30-year veteran of the Racine Police Department.

He also served two terms on the Police and Fire Commission. Wanggaard was vocal on the tragedy that unfolded near his hometown. The state’s top leaders in both parties, apart from Gov. Tony Evers, have remained silent.

“This is something that rocked our world,” Wanggaard said. “When something negative like this happens to a company that is such a huge fabric of the community … you wonder how it can happen at such a great company with such great people working there.”

He said his time in law enforcement taught him that the root cause of incidents like this need to be addressed, whether that is alcohol and drug dependency, trauma or mental health issues. 

He said gun safety proposals Evers proposed — and that Republicans refused to discuss — would not prevent incidents like this from occurring. 

“It is not the firearm that is making the decision to fire. It is an inanimate object,” Wanggaard said. “We have to get at the root of the problem.”

He said universal background checks, a 48-hour waiting period to purchase a gun and the red flag law all violate the Second Amendment. 

State Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, author of a red flag proposal, urged her fellow Republican lawmakers once again to take up legislation to better regulate who has access to guns, an attempt to prevent deadly shootings. Such attempts have failed in recent years. 

Sargent is the Assembly lead on two gun control-related bills — one that would mandate background checks when people purchase firearms, and the so-called “red flag law,” that would allow family members or police to ask a court to take firearms from an individual who is considered dangerous. 

Despite outcry about Wednesday’s deadly shooting in Milwaukee and strong public support across the state for the enactment of gun-control measures, Sargent said she doesn’t expect those bills to go anywhere in the near future. 

“It’s too late for thoughts and prayers,” Sargent said Thursday. “Every time there is a deadly shooting, we have this debate, and every time legislation is proposed to reduce access to guns, it goes nowhere. We need to address this issue. We can’t just keep doing nothing as more people die.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, has not yet made a public statement regarding the shooting.

Instead, on Thursday he tweeted a Racine Journal Times editorial that criticized Evers’ decision to veto the Republican surplus spending bill. He did not respond to a phone call from UpNorthNews seeking comment on the shooting.

“I’m angry that Republican leadership in the Senate and Assembly won’t allow us to take action on common-sense gun safety laws,” said state Rep. Greta Neubauer, D-Racine, in a statement Thursday afternoon. “The people of Wisconsin deserve better.”

UpNorthNews reporters Jonathon Sadowski and Julian Emerson contributed to this report.