MIDDLETON, Wis. (AP) — Authorities said they still don’t know why an employee at a Wisconsin software company went to his office with a pistol and extra ammunition and began firing on his colleagues, seriously injuring several, before he was fatally shot by police.
Middleton Police Chief Chuck Foulke said the shooting happened Wednesday morning at WTS Paradigm. Officers were alerted to an active-shooter situation at 10:26 a.m. and arrived to find a man armed with a semi-automatic pistol and extra ammunition. The man fired at officers before he was shot, and he later died at a Madison hospital.
Foulke said four officers fired their weapons within eight minutes of getting the call, preventing more bloodshed.
“I think a lot less people were injured or killed because police officers went in and neutralized the shooter,” Foulke said.
Foulke released few details about the suspect: that he was an employee of WTS Paradigm and lived in nearby Madison.
The chief said he didn’t know if victims were targeted, adding that investigators were following all leads.
“We have reason to believe the suspect was heavily armed with a lot of extra ammunition, a lot of extra magazines,” Foulke said.
Judy Lahmers, a business analyst at WTS Paradigm, said she was working at her desk when she heard what sounded “like somebody was dropping boards on the ground, really loud.” Lahmers said she ran out of the building and hid behind a car.
She said the building’s glass entrance door was shattered.
“I’m not looking back, I’m running as fast as I can. You just wonder, ‘Do you hide or do you run?’” she told The Associated Press.
She said she knew one co-worker had been grazed by a bullet but was OK. She didn’t have any other information about the shooting but said it was “totally unexpected. We’re all software people. We have a good group.”
WTS Paradigm Marketing Manager Ryan Mayrand said in a statement Wednesday evening that the company was “shocked and heartbroken” and was working to set up counseling for workers. He asked the media to respect the privacy of the workers, particularly those who were among the victims.
University Hospital in Madison confirmed Wednesday evening that it was still treating three victims from the shooting, saying one was in critical condition and two were in serious condition.
Police conducted a secondary search of the office building after the shooting to ensure there were no more victims or suspects — and officers discovered some people still hiding in the building, which also houses Esker Software.
Gabe Geib, a customer advocate at Esker Software, said he was working at his desk when he heard what “sounded like claps.” He said he then saw people running away from the building at “full sprint.”
“We knew at that point that something was going down. A ton of people were running across the street right in front of us,” he said.
Geib said he and his colleagues were still huddled in their cafeteria, away from windows, more than an hour after the shooting.
Jeff Greene, who also works at Esker, said police told those gathered in the cafeteria to go to a nearby hotel to make a statement about what they saw.
Three yellow school buses full of more than 100 people, including witnesses, were unloaded at a hotel about 5 milesfrom the office building. Some people hugged as they were reunited with loved ones. Others stopped to pet a dog that had been brought by someone picking up a worker.
WTS Paradigm makes software for the building products industry. A Wisconsin State Journal profile from 2014 listed company employment at about 145 employees and noted the company was looking to move to a larger location at the time.
The company’s website was down Wednesday.
A shopping center next to the building was temporarily put on lockdown at the direction of police.