NEW: The suspect is thought to have used flammable liquid to fuel a fire, police say
NEW: He was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted wound "in a locked area," police add
NEW: As authorities looked for him, some sought refuge in parts of the building
NEW: A restraining order against the suspect was issued days before the mass shooting
Seventeen days ago, Radcliffe Haughton allegedly slashed his wife’s tires outside a suburban Milwaukee salon.
Three days ago, the 45-year-old man was issued a restraining order mandating that he stay away from her for the next four years.
And now he is dead.
But not before, police say, Haughton gunned down seven women – killing three of them – inside the same Azana Salon and Spa in Brookfield while using flammable liquid to fuel a fire.
The building’s sprinkler system helped subdue that small blaze, Brookfield Police Chief Daniel Tushaus said. As for the suspect, he apparently died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“We were expecting an armed encounter if we did come across him,” Tushaus said of authorities’ intensive search of the roughly 9,000-foot building and one “locked area” in particular. “When we did eventually get into that locked area, we did determine that he, in fact, was dead.”
Authorities are still working to identify the victims, including to determine whether one of them is Haughton’s wife. And they are also trying to make sense of why it all happened.
The first calls came into police about 11 a.m. of an active shooter across from the Brookfield Square Mall and near the Westmoor Country Club, all about 11 miles west of Milwaukee.
Swarms of law enforcement officers from various agencies soon converged on the scene. They found smoke in the building from a fire believed to be started by Haughton, according to Tushaus.
Inside too was a small propane tank. The police chief said it wasn’t clear whether the suspect left it there or whether it had been left by contractors working on the building. The sprinkler system kicked in before the tank could explode.
By then, authorities did not know exactly where the gunman was or what carnage he’d left behind. And calls continued coming in from panicked people who’d sought refuge in pockets in the large multistory building.
Outside, one young woman recalled to CNN affiliate WDJT seeing “a lady crawling out the front door” and rolling down a hill. Next out was a shrieking woman, the witness added.
“And then maybe 10 people began running out of the back of the salon with their hands up – running, screaming out the door,” she said.
Four gunshot victims also soon got out of the salon and were transported to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee. That medical facility was locked down as the manhunt continued for the shooting suspect.
Hours later, about 4 p.m., authorities found Haughton’s body and declared the nightmare over.
“Our community can feel safe,” Tushaus said at an early evening news conference. “We are not seeking any additional suspects.”
Authorities described a contentious recent history between the suspect and his wife.
The restraining order against Haughton was filed four days after the October 4 tire slashing, according to Tushaus, with the four-year restriction being dictated Thursday.
Steven Rinzel – the police chief in Brown Deer, the Wisconsin community that Haughton called home – acknowledged that police “have had contacts” with the suspect in the past, including a recent “disorderly conduct, domestic violent arrest.”
And authorities were back at Haughton’s home Sunday, conducting “a safety search of the residence to make sure there was nothing in place, like an explosive device,” Rinzel said.
Meanwhile, about 14 miles south in Milwaukee, staffers at Froedtert Hospital treated the four women who’d been shot in the chaos.
Although there was no immediate breakdown as to how many of these victims were employees and how many were clients, Brookfield Fire Chief Charlie Myers said they ranged in age from 22 to 40 years old.
Dr. Gary Seabrook, the hospital’s director of surgery, explained early Sunday evening that one victim is in critical condition, another is “in satisfactory condition,” a third “is being stabilized” and will have surgery, and the fourth has been admitted but will not need surgery.
The spa where Sunday’s shooting took place is about half a mile from a Sheraton hotel where a gunman killed seven people and himself in March 2005. Terry Ratzmann, 44, burst into a service being held by a Living Church of God congregation and fired 22 rounds before shooting himself.
CNN’s Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.