MADISON—A man who shot and killed two people and wounded a third at a northeastern Wisconsin tribal casino restaurant had been fired from the eatery and ordered by a court to leave his former supervisor alone, according to court records.
Bruce Pofahl, 62, walked into the Duck Creek Kitchen and Bar in Green Bay on Saturday and shot Ian Simpson, 32, and Jacob Bartel, 35, at a wait station at close range with a 9 mm handgun as dozens of patrons looked on, Brown County Sheriff Todd Delain said Monday during a news conference in Green Bay.
Pandemonium erupted inside the complex, the sheriff said. As people were yelling and screaming, Pofahl went outside and shot another restaurant employee, 28-year-old Daniel Mulligan, the sheriff said. A team of Green Bay police officers opened fire on Pofahl moments later, killing him.
Mulligan was in serious but stable condition at a Milwaukee hospital on Monday, Delain said. The sheriff defended the officers’ decision to fire on Pofahl, saying “certainly this individual was a threat.”
The restaurant is part of an Oneida Nation hotel, casino and conference center complex on the tribe’s reservation just west of the city of Green Bay. The complex employs 150 to 200 people.
Pofahl’s supervisor at the restaurant, Elizabeth Walker, took out a restraining order against him in March, online court records show.
She wrote in her petition that Pofhal had recently been fired for “a few things, including harassment,” and had been sending her texts and emails threatening her and her family for several weeks. One message read “times (sic) up” and another warned he would ruin her sister’s wedding, Walker wrote. He also sent her photos of her home, she wrote.
Pofahl declined to attend a hearing on the order, saying in a note to the court that he suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes and was afraid he’d catch COVID-19 in the courtroom. A court commissioner granted the restraining order but did not prohibit Pofahl from possessing a firearm.
It’s unclear if Walker was Pofahl’s target on Saturday night. Authorities said Pofahl was looking for a specific person when he arrived at the restaurant but that the person wasn’t there. They didn’t name that person.
Delain said again Monday that the attack was “targeted,” but he declined to elaborate beyond saying that investigators were looking into Pofahl’s relationships with former co-workers.
Walker wrote in her restraining order petition that the Oneida were aware of Pofahl’s threats. The tribe’s vice chairman, Brandon Stevens, declined to discuss what he called “personnel matters” during the news conference, saying investigators were still gathering information.
Online court records didn’t list any other civil or criminal cases against Pofahl.
Oneida Chairman Tehassi Hill told WLUK-TV on Sunday that he was in “disbelief” and called the shooting “scary.” He said the tribe prohibits firearms on its properties but that “(mass shootings are) kind of a regular thing in this country.”
Hill said he feels security is tight at the casino, but that the tribe may have to consider tougher protocols for the complex depending on investigators’ findings. Stevens noted Monday that the complex has multiple entrances and exits.
The Oneida are one of 11 tribes that operate casinos in Wisconsin under agreements with the state called compacts. Essentially, the tribes pledge a percentage of their gaming revenue to the state in exchange for the exclusive right to offer casino gambling.
Tribal gaming in Wisconsin generated nearly $1.3 billion in gross revenue in the 2018-2019 fiscal year but suffered deep losses in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.
By Todd Richmond