World

Gunman kills five at Milwaukee brewery

By AAP Newswire

An employee has opened fire at one of the largest breweries in the US, killing five fellow workers before taking his own life, police say.

The assailant who attacked the Molson Coors complex in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was identified as a 51-year-old local man who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.

"There were five individuals who went to work today, just like everybody goes to work, and they thought they were going to go to work, finish their day and return to their families. They didn't - and tragically they never will," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.

Authorities offered no immediate motive for the attack and did not release details about the shooter or how the shooting unfolded.

None of the victims was identified. Police, who were still contacting relatives, said identities would not be released for at least 24 hours. No one was wounded beyond those who were killed, authorities said.

Officers worked for hours to clear the more than 20 buildings in the complex where more than 1000 people work. They announced at a late evening news conference that the work was done and all employees had been allowed to go home. Police Chief Alfonso Morales said authorities believe the shooter operated alone.

President Donald Trump spoke of the shooting at the White House.

"Our hearts break for them and their loved ones," he said. "We send our condolences. We'll be with them, and it's a terrible thing, a terrible thing."

The attack occurred at a sprawling complex that includes a mix of corporate offices and brewing facilities. The complex is widely known in the Milwaukee area as "Miller Valley," a reference to the Miller Brewing Co. that is now part of Molson Coors.

Molson Coors CEO Gavin Hattersley called the shooter "an active brewery employee."

"Unfortunately, I am devastated to share that we lost five other members of our family in this tragic incident," he said in an email sent to employees.

"There are no words to express the deep sadness many of us are feeling right now."

He said the office would be closed the rest of the week and the brewery shuttered "for the time being" to give people time to cope.

A group of brewery employees gathered at a nearby bar to talk about what had happened.

"We are all a family. We work a lot of hours together, so we're all very sad," said Selena Curka, who was about to start her shift when the complex went on lockdown and she was turned away.

"Miller Valley" features a 160-year-old brewery, with a packaging centre that fills thousands of cans and bottles every minute and a distribution centre the size of five football fields.

The last mass shooting in the Milwaukee area was in August 2012, when white supremacist Wade Michael Page fatally shot six people and wounded four others at a Sikh temple in suburban Oak Creek.

Page killed himself after being wounded in a shootout with police.

Shortly before word of the brewery shooting broke, Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told reporters in suburban Franklin that state gun laws would not be changing despite a push by Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, to do so.

Evers called lawmakers into special session late last year to consider expanding background checks and allowing guns to be taken from people deemed a threat. But the Republican-controlled Legislature adjourned without action.