MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A gun man opened fire at the suburban Milwaukee beauty salon where his s pouse w orked on Sunday, killing three people and wounding four others before taking his own life, police said, two weeks after he was accused of slashing his wife’s car tires.
The suspect was identified as 45-year-old Radcliffe Haughton, a resident of Brown Deer, Wisconsin, who h ad been p laced under a restraining order and directed to surrender his firearms to local authorities this month in connection with a domestic abuse case involving his wife.
“We believe this incident was domestic violence-related,” Brookfield Police Chief Daniel Tushaus said at a news conference.
All three of those shot to death at the Azana Salon & Spa were female, Tushaus said. Their ages and identities were not immediately provided, an d th e police chief would not say whether Haughton’s wife, w ho was a spa employee, wa s among the victims.
Haughton was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at the c rime s cene, police said.
The shooting marked the second outburst of gun violence at a U.S. beauty spa in a matter of days. On Thursday, a gunman opened fire at a salon in suburban Orlando, Florida, killing three women and wounding a f ourth, his wife, bef ore fleeing and committing suicide at a nearby residence. The suspect in that shooting had likewise been ordered to keep away from his spouse.
The Wisconsin shooting followed an October 4 incident in which H aughton slashed the tires on his wife’s car, l eading to his arrest on suspicion of vandalism, Tu shaus s aid.
Four days later, his wife was granted a temporary restraining order a gainst Haughton r elated to domestic abuse in Milwaukee Co unty, Tushaus said. On October 18, a court injunction was issued barring Haughton from possessing firearms, and he was ord e red to hand over any weapons he had to the county sheriff.
Milwaukee County authorities were not immediately available for comment.
Haughton also was cited for misdemeanor disorderly conduct, described as domestic abuse, stemming from an incident on January 8, 2011. That charge was dismissed on June 15, 2011.
Sunday’s shooting erupted at about 11 a.m. local time, according to police.
Joe Brent, a 26-year-old Milwaukee man, said he was leaving a fast-food restaurant near the salon when he heard a gunshot. Within about 2 minutes, a policeman entered the restaurant and told everyone to leave, he said.
He added that as he was getting into his car he saw a woman who appeared to be in her 20s with a bloodied paper towel on her neck being rushed from the salon and onto a stretcher. “She was screaming. She was hurt real badly,” Brent said.
Four female gunshot victims ranging in age from 22 to 40 were rushed to Milwaukee’s Froedtert hospital. T heir c onditions were not immediately known, t h ough the hospital said two of the victims had surgery.
The suspect’s father, also named Radcliffe Haughton, spoke to Milwaukee television station TMJ- 4 before the suspect was found dead. The el der Ha ughton ex pressed his f amily’s a pologizes for whatever “misdeeds” his son had committed.
“This is not the way we live. This is not the way I raise my son up, ” Haughton said. “He has been a good member of society. I don’t know what happened.”
The first police officers to arrive on t he scene found smoke in the building and a small fire in the hallway, which they believe was started by the suspect. Police also found a one-pound propane tank, but do not know if the suspect left it there. A n earby shopping mall was placed under a security lockdown immediately after the shooting as a precaution.
President Barack Obama was informed of the shooting at 1:30 p.m. EDT, according to a statement from the White House. The statement said that the president and first lady Michelle Obama’s “thoughts and prayers” were with the victims.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker issued a statement calling the shooting another example of the “senseless acts of violence” that occur across the country.
The last few months have been marked by a string of mass shootings in the United States. On September 27, a disgruntled former employee killed six people and took his own life in a shooting rampage at a Minneapolis sign company from which he had been fired.
In August, two people were killed and nine wounded in a work-related shooting near the Empire State Building in New York City. The Manhattan incident followed mass shootings in a Colorado movie theater that kil led 12 and wounded 58 and a Sikh temple in Wisconsin tha t claimed seven lives, in cluding that of the gunman.
Nationally, there were 458 workplace homicides in 2011 and 518 in 2010, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. (Reporting by Brendan O‘Brien and Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Steve Gorman and Stacey Joyce)