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Crowd Reacts With Horror to the Brookfield Shootings

Three women were shot and killed at the Azana Spa in Brookfield on Sunday and four others were wounded. Police say the gunman, 45-year-old Radcliffe Haughton, then killed himself inside the salon. The parking lot of Brookfield Square Mall quickly filled with people, as news of the mass shooting spread on Sunday afternoon. WUWM’s Marti Mikkelson spent several hours at the scene and spoke with those gathered.

Dozens of bystanders stood in a parking lot, across the street from the Azana Salon, after learning about the shootings. Many shook their heads in disbelief while watching scores of tactical officers and emergency vehicles swarm into action. Joe Brent of Minneapolis says he was eating breakfast around 11 a.m. at the McDonald’s next door to the salon when he heard gunshots. He says the next thing he knew police were telling everyone to leave.

“The girl was yelling too. She needed help and then the police officer helped her to the ambulance. After I saw her, after seeing the blood and getting her neck covered up, that’s where she got shot. I got paranoid because I’ve never been in that situation,” Brent says.

Brent described the scene as chaotic and said he was frightened heading to his car to get away from the scene. Kyle Gagnon of New Berlin was working at a kiosk inside Brookfield Square. He says he had just opened it, when authorities told him the mall was on lockdown and he should get inside a store. Once he did, he learned of the shootings when he checked his phone.

“Everybody was texting me and calling me. My friends were all calling me and keeping me informed. I was very worried, terrified, wondering what was going on, worried that the guy had gotten into the mall somehow and that’s why we were on lockdown. You never know what’s going to happen, especially, being at your job,” Gagnon says.

The Flight for Life helicopter was among many emergency vehicles at the scene.

Gagnon says he and others waited at the back of a store for two hours before police signaled the all clear to leave. Shawn Brandenburg told me he arrived at the mall around noon to shop with his son, but was told he could not enter. Brandenburg lives nearby, and finds recent violence terribly disturbing.

“You can’t go anywhere nowadays without constantly looking over your shoulder for anything that could possibly happen. It’s proof positive you can’t even go to church nowadays without something happening. It’s sickening, especially when you’re trying to raise a child in this world. It’s a lot different than when I was his age,” Brandenburg says.

Brandenburg says Sunday’s shootings resurrected bad memories of the Sikh Temple shootings in Oak Creek less than three months ago. He notes both occurred on Sundays during beautiful weather.

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.