Molson Coors employee: 'I return to work with pride and dignity'

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58)-- While Molson Coors employees got back to work, the community continued their show of support with another vigil held Monday night at the Gesu Parish in Milwaukee. Monday’s vigil was a partnership between the Near West Association, Gesu Parish and Marquette University.

Molson Coors employee Byron Johnson spoke during the vigil. He said last Wednesday’s goal at work was not to make beer, but to keep each other protected and lead each other to safety.

“I return to work tomorrow with pride and dignity,” said Johnson.

Johnson held back tears during the vigil, as he prepared himself to go back to work on Tuesday.

“I will tread back through the very path where several co-workers were slaughtered last Wednesday,” said Johnson. "I will keep them in mind with a heavy heart.”

Johnson accounted the moment an active shooter announcement was made.

“We rallied together and locked ourselves in a locker room for about an hour or so not knowing what to expect,” he added.

Former employees are also having a hard time coping with what happened.

“Having been there and worked there, it’s just very sad, and so yeah it’s going to bother me for quite some time,” said Laurie Wilhelm.

Laurie Wilhelm worked at Molson Coors for more than 40 years. Wilhelm spent 29 years in the security department and 11 years in the warehouse as a forklift operator. She retired just two weeks before Wednesday’s shooting.

“I was very afraid to hear who the victims were,” added Wilhelm.

Being in the security department once before, Wilhelm says there’s only so much you can do.

“People have to be vigilant, but it’s almost impossible to prevent something like this, no matter what you do,” Wilhelm says.

With friends still at Molson Coors, Wilhelm says the tragedy has changed their work atmosphere.

”It’s just going to be a different atmosphere for quite a long time,” said Wilhelm. “That’s for sure.”

At the vigil, neighbors and supporters say their prayer is for peace and strength to unite a hurting community.

“When we come together, I believe that’s kind of a prayer that we’re sending out to the universe to say we’re here together, we’re here to be strong -- you know, Milwaukee strong,” said Vanessa Llanas, who lives near Molson Coors.

“If we all would be more intentional about practicing peace and non-violence with one another, we’ll be a better community,” says Father Jim Flaherty of Gesu Parish.

While some employees got back to work Monday, Molson Coors says actual brewery operations won't begin again until Wednesday.

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