Suspect in Brookfield spa attack had history of abuse

the Associated Press

Suspect in Brookfield spa attack had history of abuse

CREATED Oct. 22, 2012

BROOKFIELD, Wis. (AP) -- A Wisconsin woman whose husband is suspected in a fatal spa shooting said he threatened to throw acid in her face and that he jealously terrorized her "every waking moment," according to court documents.

Authorities say Radcliffe Franklin Haughton, 45, 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, 42, was among those killed or wounded.

In a written request for a restraining order filed Oct. 8, Zina Haughton said her husband was convinced she was cheating on him and that aside from the acid threat he also vowed to burn her and her family with gas. He said he would kill her if she ever left him or called the police, according to the court papers obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

"His threats terrorize my every waking moment," she wrote.

Earlier this month, Haughton was arrested for slashing his wife's tires; she was granted a four-year restraining order on Thursday.

Under the order, Haughton, of Brown Deer, was prohibited from owning a firearm.

Police last year responded to reports of domestic violence at the Haughton home. Zina Haughton called 911 saying her enraged husband had thrown her clothes and bedding into the yard and doused her vehicle with tomato juice. Radcliffe Haughton was charged with disorderly conduct, but the charge was later dismissed because a witness failed to appear in court.

Brookfield Police Chief Dan Tushaus said he wasn't aware of a motive in Sunday's shooting, but that investigators weren't looking for anyone else.

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

A .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun was used in the attack, said agent Tom Ahern of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

A spokeswoman at Froedtert Hospital where the injured were taken said one of the four women remained in critical condition early Monday. Kathy Sieja said 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 and the hospital.

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 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 Haughton 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 had brought the propane tank or whether a contractor had 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 a locked room, 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 or customers at the spa.

Haughton'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."

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.

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.

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Associated Press writer Steve Karnowski in Minneapolis and researcher Lynn Dombek in New York contributed to this report.

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Dinesh Ramde can be reached at dramde(at)ap.org.

 

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