September 17, 2021

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Three killed, at least two seriously injured in shooting at Somers House tavern in Kenosha County; police looking for suspects – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

5 min read

Three people were killed and at least two were seriously injured in a shooting early Sunday morning at a busy Kenosha County tavern, authorities said.

Investigators believe it is possible there was more than one gunman. They had not arrested anyone as of midday Sunday. 

About 100 officers were looking for suspects, Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said in a news conference.

Residents near Somers House tavern in the village of Somers likely were not at risk Sunday, Beth said.

The suspected shooter was a patron who “wasn’t cooperating with the management” at the tavern, Beth said. The man left the bar and returned a short time later, about 12:45 a.m., to begin shooting, he said.

Shots were fired inside the tavern as well as outside, leading investigators to believe more than one person could have fired shots, Beth said. He believed handguns were used.

The patron who fired shots “knew who the victims were” and targeted them, Beth said. He did not know whether the victims knew the patron.

Authorities had not released the names of the victims Sunday morning.

According to a release from nearby Carthage College, there were students in the tavern when the shooting occurred but “local law enforcement has reported that they believe no college students were injured in the shooting, and we have received no reports of any student injuries.”

In addition to the three people who were killed and the two who were seriously injured, “there’s a possibility that one or two or maybe even more had minor injuries or some other injuries,” Beth said.

It is possible other people were struck by gunfire and left the tavern on their own, Beth said. Investigators have asked local hospitals to notify them of any additional gunshot victims.

One of the victims who died got into a car after being shot and was driven away from the scene by bystanders, Beth said. The driver flagged down an officer on the way, and the officer drove the person to a hospital. The person died before arriving.

Beth said the bar was “very busy” at the time of the shooting but did not have any more information about how many people were there.

Video taken by a bystander and posted to social media after the shooting shows a chaotic scene. Emergency crews took at least two people out of the tavern with injuries, and another victim was receiving CPR just outside the front door.

The tavern is less than half a mile north of Carthage College on Sheridan Road. The school went into lockdown after the shooting, Beth said.

The tavern is popular with Carthage students, said Peter Ploskee, 44, a neighbor who lives across the street.

His doorbell camera captured footage of what he called a “shootout” between two groups. People got into vehicles and drove away quickly, he said.

Ploskee heard several gunshots from his home. He looked out his window and saw “cars taking off in every direction, people running in every direction.”

Then he saw about 19 squad cars arrive. Officers were walking house to house on Sheridan Road and “searching every property” for the suspects, Ploskee said.

An emergency alert was sent in early morning hours to nearby residents about the shooting.

As of Sunday afternoon, investigators were still working at the tavern, focusing on at least two bodies still on the ground outside the tavern: one just outside the front door and one in an outdoor patio area. A police dog was sniffing the yards of nearby homes, and Sheridan Road remained blocked from 12th Street to Carthage College, which is half a mile south. 

A single potted flower was placed near the perimeter as a memorial.

In response to the shooting, Gov. Tony Evers tweeted that his “heart breaks” for Kenosha. He thanked the first responders working on the case and is “hoping and praying” those injured will recover. 

“We are thinking of the families and loved ones affected and the entire Kenosha community as they grieve and grapple with yet another tragic incident of gun violence,” Evers’ tweet said.

Jade Troha, a student at the University of Wisconsin- Parkside, lives near the tavern and said Somers House has a reputation for being a bar where students will go to drink.

A police car is usually stationed outside the bar, and students often walk along Sheridan Road at night. But Troha hadn’t heard of violence there before.

Troha’s friend Alisha Murphy, also a student at UW-Parkside, knows people who were at the tavern last night.

Murphy had just been working on a paper for psychology class about shootings.

“I literally thought to myself, ‘I could be anywhere and have this happen to me,’ and then that night people that I really know were right in the situation,” she said.

Pat Jager rents garage space across the street and said the neighborhood was usually quiet.

“We usually don’t have no problems here,” he said.

He also said he didn’t understand why a scuffle had to turn into gun violence.

“If you’re going to fight, fight with fists like the old school way,” he said.

Jon Borne lives in the neighborhood and often goes on late-night walks and stops at the tavern. He knows the owner and said the crowd there is often a mix of college students, motorcycle aficionados and others, but everyone usually gets along.

For someone to resort to violence in this way — “I don’t get it,” he said.

He said he is grateful he wasn’t there last night.

Borne often sees news of shootings around the country, but this one makes him especially angry because it took place so close to home, he said.

The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office asked anyone with information about the shooting and the suspects to call them at (262) 605-5100 or call Crime Stoppers anonymously at (262) 656-7333.

Carthage College’s lockdown was lifted at 6:20 a.m. The college is offering counseling and support to students and asking that suspicious activity be reported to its office of public safety at 262-551-5911.

The rampage was the latest of several shooting attacks across the nation, including one at a FedEx warehouse in Indianapolis last week that left eight people dead. Mass killings have claimed four or more American lives every week for the past six weeks, leaving dozens dead and several more people wounded in their wake.

In Wisconsin last month, two employees at a Roundy’s facility in Oconomowoc were shot and killed by a coworker who later shot himself.

In February 2020, an electrician at Molson Coors shot and killed five coworkers and then himself in one of the worst mass shootings in state history.

There have been at least 16 mass shootings in Wisconsin since 2004, including five last year.

In 2018, an employee at the Middleton software company WTS Paradigm shot and injured four co-workers before he was fatally shot by police.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Contact Sophie Carson at (414) 223-5512 or scarson@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter at @SCarson_News.

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