Suspected Oneida casino shooter was former employee
By Heather Graves
BROWN COUNTY – In no more than 10 minutes, three people were dead Saturday, May 1.
“You have people running, and people crying, and people screaming and maybe people pointing for whatever reason,” said Brown County Sheriff Todd Delain at a press conference Monday, May 3. “At the same time we know there are victims, so we have to form a team, get medical personnel out to those individuals as quickly as we can, as safely as we can.”
The shooting at the Duck Creek Kitchen + Bar, inside the Oneida Casino/Radisson Conference Center in Ashwaubenon, is a situation law enforcement agencies train countless hours for. Yet, it’s training everyone hopes they never have to use.
“From a training perspective, you have to remember that we have all of these officers – they may not exactly know everyone, and you are seeing people move with weapons throughout the place, because all other officers have weapons out, so it is very chaotic situation that has to be trained and thought out,” Delain said. “It is a very fluid environment that is constantly evaluated by all of the officers. We’ll look at it, we’ll learn from it and we’ll continue to train and be prepared and be ready in Brown County. Hopefully we’ll never have a situation like this again in Brown County, but trust me, all these law enforcement professionals with me today will be prepared, just like we were on Saturday.”
The incident, response
Bruce Pofahl, 62, entered the Duck Creek Kitchen + Bar shortly before 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 1 and allegedly shot and killed Jacob Bartel, 35, and Ian Simpson, 32, at close range with a 9 mm handgun.
Another shooting victim, Daniel Mulligan, 28, remains in serious, but stable, condition at a Milwaukee hospital.
“(Pofahl) walked in, he walked directly to the back of the restaurant and the waiter’s station,” Delain said. “He had opportunity, I suppose, to direct his violence to other individuals if he wanted because there were approximately 50 people in the restaurant. And he walked directly back to that waiter’s station and directed the violence to those individuals.”
Officials estimate 50-60 percent of the restaurant’s tables were occupied at the time of the shooting.
The first 911 call came in at 7:28 p.m.
Within minutes, Delain said a total of approximately 75 officers responded to the area from eight law enforcement agencies.
Nine area fire and EMS teams were dispatched to assist officers in the rescue and treatment of victims.
Delain said responding officers formed contact teams to enter the complex and respond to the active threat.
Additional teams entered with fire and EMS to render first aid to the victims.
“This is trained as part of our county wide tactical alert response to active shooter situations,” he said.
Delain said a contact team with the Green Bay Police Department was able to engage and neutralize the suspect outside of the complex on the north side of the building near the parking structure.
“The lone suspect was pronounced dead at the scene,” he said.
Delain confirmed the officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, per protocol.
“For all of those officers who, in essence, were running toward the sound of gunfire, or in a situation where they know they were entering a very, potentially deadly situation, we have to commend them for their bravery, because not everyone can do that,” he said.
Delain said Pofahl was a former employee of the Duck Creek Kitchen + Bar who was terminated earlier this year.
Brandon Stevens, vice chairman of Oneida Nation, said he believes Pofahl served as the restaurant’s food and beverage manager.
“It is our understanding that the Oneida Nation also advised the suspect that he was forbidden from being on the property,” Delain said.
While Stevens would not comment on the reasoning behind Pofahl’s termination, he did say banning former employees from the premises after they are fired is not normal practice.
Whether or not staff were aware that Pofahl was not allowed on the premises remains unclear.
“To my knowledge there was communication (given to staff), but through the pandemic we had some layoffs, we had a lot different things, dynamics through the pandemic that we are going through right now,” Stevens said.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice – Division of Criminal Investigation is handling the investigation into the officer-involved shooting of the suspected shooter. The Brown County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation into the double homicide, and attempted homicide.
Delain said there were several hundred people within the complex during the time period of the incident – including Oneida Nation employees, hotel guests, restaurant patrons, banquet halls guests and casino patrons.
“This is different from the casino where there are security guards at every entrance, they are carding individuals as they come in, surveillance all over the place in the casino,” Stevens said.
Stevens said his team will reevaluate security at the hotel and restaurant following the incident.
“We will definitely analyze how we can do this better and how we can keep our patrons safer,” he said.
Delain confirmed there is body camera footage, along with personal video footage received by witnesses, being used as part of the investigation.
“For those agencies that would have had (body cameras) that would be something that would be subject to open records requests when the time comes,” Delain said. “But obviously, again, it is under investigation that is going to be a little bit of time.”
Delain said anyone who has video or information they haven’t yet given to law enforcement should contact Lt. Brian Slinger at 920-448-4229 and leave your name and contact number.