Police search for motive after Wisconsin workplace shooting
MIDDLETON, Wis. (AP) — Authorities are trying to figure out why a software company employee opened fire inside his Wisconsin office, armed with a pistol and extra ammunition, and seriously wounded several of his colleagues before he was fatally shot by police.
Middleton Police Chief Chuck Foulke said the motive behind the Wednesday morning attack at WTS Paradigm wasn't immediately clear. The name of the suspect hasn't been released, but police said he worked at the company and lived in nearby Madison.
Police said three people were seriously wounded during the attack, while a fourth was grazed by a bullet. The person critically injured had been upgraded to serious condition by Thursday morning, while the two other victims remained hospitalized in serious condition at University Hospital, according to a spokeswoman.
Law enforcement searched a house in Madison late Wednesday. Dane County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Elise Schaffer said the search was connected to the shooting, but she declined to say whether the house belonged to the gunman.
WTS Paradigm released a statement saying the company was "shocked and heartbroken," and working to set up counseling for workers. The company asked the media to respect the privacy of the workers, particularly the victims.
Officers were alerted to an active-shooter situation at the company 10:26 a.m. Wednesday. Officers arrived within minutes to find a heavily armed man. Investigators said the man fired at officers before he was shot. He later died at a Madison hospital.
Foulke said four officers fired their weapons within 8 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.
The chief said he didn't know if the victims were targeted or shot at random. He also said investigators were following all leads.
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."
The office building also houses Esker Software. Gabe Geib, a customer advocate at the company, 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 miles (8 kilometers) from the office building.
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.
Middleton is about 90 miles (145 kilometers) west of Milwaukee.
Associated Press writers Gretchen Ehlke in Milwaukee, and Amy Forliti and Jeff Baenen in Minneapolis contributed to this report.