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Wisconsin man opens fire at salon, killing three

Radcliffe Franklin Haughton’s wife worked at the salon. Four people were injured during the rampage.

Radcliffe Franklin Haughton, 45, of Brown Deer, Wisconsin
Radcliffe Franklin Haughton, 45, of Brown Deer, Wisconsin
Image: Brookfield Police Dept

A WISCONSIN MAN accused of opening fire at the salon where his wife worked, killing three women and wounding four others, had a history of domestic abuse, with allegations that he had slashed his wife’s tires a few weeks earlier, police said.

Radcliffe Franklin Haughton damaged his wife’s tires on 4 October, Brookfield police said. She sought court protection four days later, and a judge granted a four-year restraining order on Thursday. As part of the order, Haughton was prohibited from owning a firearm.

Weapons

Brookfield Police Chief Dan Tushaus said at a press conference:

I can tell you we’re not seeking additional suspects. The community can feel safe.

The shootings set off a confusing, six-hour search for the gunman that locked down a nearby mall, a country club adjacent to the spa and the hospital where the survivors were taken. The search froze activity in a commercial area in Brookfield, a middle-to-upper class community west of Milwaukee, for much of the day.

Ultimately, Haughton was found dead in the spa after killing himself.

Authorities said it would take time to sort out exactly what happened, and emphasised they were still interviewing witnesses and rescuers and didn’t have a firm timeline of events. At Sunday’s news conference, Brookfield Mayor Steve Ponto called the shootings “a senseless act on the part of one person.”

The chaos started around 11 am at the Azana Day Spa, a two-story, 9,000-square-foot building across from a major shopping mall. The first officers on the scene found the building filled with smoke from a fire authorities believe was set by Haughton, 45, of Brown Deer, Tushaus said.

They also found a 1-pound propane tank they initially thought might be an improvised explosive device, Tushaus said. That slowed the search of the building as law enforcement agents waited for a bomb squad to clear the scene.

Tushaus said later that police didn’t know whether the gunman brought the propane tank to the spa or whether a contractor left it.

The search was also complicated by the layout of the building, with numerous small treatment rooms and several locked areas, Tushaus said. While officers initially thought the gunman had fled the building, they later found his body in one of the locked areas, he said.

Survivors

The bodies of the victims were also found in the spa. Tushaus said investigators were still working to identify them. He said the four survivors were between the ages of 22 and 40. He didn’t know if they were employees at the spa or customers, and it wasn’t clear if the man’s wife was among the victims.

Haughton had recently been arrested after witnesses identified him as the person who slashed his wife’s tires, police said.

A witness, David Gosh of nearby West Allis, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he was returning from duck hunting with his father and a friend when he saw a woman emerge from the spa, screaming, as she ran into traffic.

“She ran right out into the street and was pounding on cars,” Gosh told the newspaper. Moments later, a man with a handgun ran out. He appeared to be chasing the woman but then went back inside, Gosh said.

At the hospital where the victims were taken, staff members were escorted inside during a temporary lockdown. Officers were stationed at entrances, and critically injured patients were admitted with a police escort.

The hospital released a statement saying two women had undergone surgery, and one was in critical condition. Another was expected to have surgery last night.

Mass shooting

It was the second mass shooting in Wisconsin this year. Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old Army veteran and white supremacist, killed six people and injured three others before fatally shooting himself 5 August at a Sikh temple south of Milwaukee.

Sunday’s shooting took place less than a mile from where seven people were killed and four wounded on March 12, 2005, when a gunman opened fire at a Living Church of God service held at a hotel.

Read: Sikh temple shooter ‘encouraged other white supremacists’>

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