ASHWAUBENON, Wisconsin – Three people, including the shooter, died and one person was seriously injured in a Saturday shooting at a Wisconsin casino, police said early Sunday.
Law enforcement responded to reports of gunfire at the Duck Creek Restaurant in the Oneida Casino / Radisson Hotel & Conference Center at around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, the Brown County Sheriff’s office said.
Police shot the shooter after he shot three other people in or near the restaurant, Lt. Kevin Pawlak at a press conference shortly after midnight.
The shooter went to the restaurant but the clerk he was targeting wasn’t there, Pawlak said. The shooter then shot dead several other workers, two of whom died, the sheriff’s office said. The shooter was killed by police officers in front of the restaurant.
The Brown County Sheriff’s Office and Oneida Police Department are investigating the murders, and the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Criminal Investigation Department is investigating the gunman’s death.
Officials responding to the scene treated the incident as a live event for active shooters. Information that got into the dispatch center indicated that multiple shots had been fired and multiple victims.
Current information suggests that the suspect has ties to Oneida Casino based on his employment status, police said.
Police said the situation was contained and there was no immediate threat.
Governor Tony Evers expressed his support for Oneida Nation and the surrounding communities.
“Kathy and I were devastated when we heard about filming at the Oneida Casino complex tonight. Our hearts, thoughts and support go to the Oneida Nation, the Ashwaubenon and Green Bay communities, and everyone who has been affected by this tragedy, “Evers said in a press release.
“While we wait for more information, we hope and pray that the injured will recover and are grateful for the first responders who responded quickly to the situation,” said the governor.
Oneida Nation tweeted late Saturday that the West Mason Casino, Travel Center, and Packerland Casinos will open at 8am on Sunday, while the Main Casino and Irene Moore Activity Center will remain closed until further notice. All retail stores open as usual on Sundays.
Robert Hesson was attending a friend’s birthday party in a banquet room at the casino when the staff walked in and yelled at them to get out.
Hesson said he couldn’t hear any gunfire and initially thought it might be a fire, but as they left the building police cars sped onto the property.
Outside, staff urged them to keep moving further away from the building while police stormed in with tactical weapons and shotguns, Hesson said.
At around 7:30 p.m. when he was in the parking lot, Hesson said he heard a few gunshots first, then a large number. People told them to get behind cars and get out.
When Hesson thought about what had happened, he said it was hard to believe that anything like this had happened here.
“I know no place is immune to it, but it’s home now,” Hesson said.
“It’s sad and disgusting at the same time,” he said.
Hesson thanked the casino staff for their professionalism in getting people out of the building and protecting them, “because as we understand it, there were people who didn’t make it tonight.”
Max Westphal of Brownsville said he was playing blackjack with a group of friends when the announcement came over the loudspeaker that people were to evacuate.
At first he said they thought it was something small. However, when they were outside, they heard the situation escalate.
“Suddenly a huge flood of shots. Between 10 and 30 shots,” said Westphal. “All you could smell outside was gunpowder.”
They ran to get further away from the scene, he said.
Taylor Schroeder was in the bingo hall in a separate building and didn’t hear any gunshots but said the players were locked out around 8 p.m. and were given no information about what was happening.
They continued to play bingo and received the occasional “vague” update until they had to leave immediately about 45 minutes later.
Outside, fire engines, ambulances, and police vehicles were “everywhere”.
“I’m just glad that we were able to evacuate so effectively and quickly,” said Schröder.