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updated: 10/22/2012 9:48 AM

Suspect in Wis. salon attack had history of abuse

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  • This photo provided by the Brookfield Police Dept. shows Radcliffe Franklin Haughton, 45, of Brown Deer, Wis. He is suspected of opening fire at a salon where his wife worked, killing three women and wounding four others. He was found dead at the scene.

      This photo provided by the Brookfield Police Dept. shows Radcliffe Franklin Haughton, 45, of Brown Deer, Wis. He is suspected of opening fire at a salon where his wife worked, killing three women and wounding four others. He was found dead at the scene.
    Associated Press

  • Police and swat team members respond to a call of a shooting at the Azana Spa in Brookfield, Wis. Sunday after multiple people were wounded when a gunman opened fire at the spa near the Brookfield Square Mall.

      Police and swat team members respond to a call of a shooting at the Azana Spa in Brookfield, Wis. Sunday after multiple people were wounded when a gunman opened fire at the spa near the Brookfield Square Mall.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

BROOKFIELD, Wis. -- A Wisconsin woman whose husband is suspected in a fatal spa shooting Sunday morning says he threatened to throw acid in her face and burn her with gas.

The Wisconsin man, whose Facebook page says he graduated from Wheeling High School in 1985, suspected of opening fire at a salon where his wife worked, killing three women and wounding four others, had a history of domestic abuse and had been arrested on charges of slashing his wife's tires a few weeks earlier, police said.

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Authorities say Radcliffe Franklin Haughton, 45, of Brown Deer, Wis., shot and killed three women, injured four more then turned the gun on himself Sunday at the suburban Milwaukee spa where his wife worked. Police haven't said if Zina Haughton was among those killed or wounded.

In a court filing, Zina Haughton said her husband thought she was cheating on him, and threatened to kill her if she ever left him or called the police.

She was granted a four-year temporary restraining order this month after her husband was arrested on charges of slashing her tires. She told the court he threatened to burn her and her family with gas.

Haughton's wife sought court protection four days after he slashed her tires on Oct. 4, Brookfield police said. Police arrested him and a judge granted a four-year restraining order on Thursday. As part of the order, the gunman was prohibited from owning a firearm.

Brookfield Police Chief Dan Tushaus declined to comment on whether the gunman had surrendered any weapons prior to Sunday's salon rampage.

"I can tell you we're not seeking additional suspects," he said at a news conference Sunday evening. "The community can feel safe."

A spokeswoman at the Froedtert Hospital where the injured were taken said one of the four women remained in critical condition early Monday, and the three other women were in satisfactory condition.

The shootings set off a confusing, six-hour search for the gunman, forcing the lockdown of 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 of Brookfield, a middle-to-upper class community west of Milwaukee, for much of the day.

Authorities said it would take time to sort out exactly what happened, and emphasized they were still interviewing witnesses and rescuers and didn't have a firm timeline of events. Brookfield Mayor Steve Ponto called the shootings "a senseless act on the part of one person."

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported Sunday that, in addition to Wheeling, the gunman also lived in Northbrook growing up.

The gunman's family moved from the 200 block of Ninth Street in Wheeling about nine years ago, former next-door neighbor Richard Foster said. Foster recognized the gunman as soon as he saw his photograph on the TV news Sunday. Foster described his reaction as "stunned."

Foster's longtime partner, Mary Nowak, remembered the suspect as a quiet, "laid back" boy who taught her son to play chess.

"He wasn't a wild boy or anything like that," Nowak said.

The chaos started around 11 a.m. 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 the gunman set, 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.

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.

The gunman's father, Radcliffe Haughton, Sr., spoke to The Associated Press shortly before police announced that they had found his son's body. In telephone interviews from Florida, he said he had last spoken to his son a few days ago, but didn't know anything was wrong. He begged his son to turn himself in.

After learning of his son's death, he said only: "This is very sad."

A sea of ambulances and police vehicles converged on the scene shortly after the shooting. 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 Sunday night.

The shooting investigation and manhunt paralyzed a normally bustling shopping district.

Austin Della, 17, was working at a department store in the mall opposite the spa, when the mall was locked down for almost three hours. He said customers joked about the good service they would get as the only clients in the store.

"Everyone was really calm," Della said. "If not for all the announcements, I don't think anyone would have known that anything was happening."

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 Aug. 5 at a Sikh temple south of Milwaukee.

The shooting at the mall 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.

• Daily Herald staff writer Russell Lissau contributed to this report.

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