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Witness calls estranged wife of Wisconsin salon shooter a ‘hero’

By Carlos Sadovi, Chicago Tribune –

CHICAGO — While patrons dove to the ground Sunday after an armed man walked into a Brookfield, Wis., spa, Zina Haughton went up to him to try and calm him down, a woman who said she witnessed part of the attack recalled Monday.

Zina Haughton would eventually be killed by Radfcliffe Haughton, her estranged husband, along with two other women who worked at the Azana Day Spa in Brookfield.

Betty Brunner, 65, said she had an 11 a.m. appointment with Haughton, and was chatting with her, catching up about Haughton’s two daughters.

Haughton went to get Brunner a cup of coffee when Brunner spotted a very tall man standing in the shop, holding a revolver, pointing it into the air, she said.

“He spun, and when he spun, he pointed the gun directly at the reception desk and he yelled, ‘Everybody down, everybody down,’ ” said Brunner of Jackson, Wis. “I got down on the floor.”

There were about 16 other people in the shop, she said.

But rather then get down on the ground like everyone else, she said Zina Haughton walked up to the man.

“Zina walked up to the reception desk kind of shielding the young receptionist and said, ‘What do you want?’ ” Brunner said.

Haughton spoke to the man as though he was a stranger, calling him “sir,” she said.

She recalled Haughton saying, “Anything we can give you, anything you want? These are good people, they’re just here. This is a peaceful place.”

Haughton kept talking to the man, apparently trying to diffuse the situation. She said she didn’t realize they were married until afterward.

Then as Haughton kept speaking to the man, he grabbed her by the arm and pulled her away from the reception area and yelled out again, “Everybody down, everybody down.”

He then took her around a wall where other women were also located, she said.

“That is when all the shooting took place,” said Brunner.

As the man returned, she lay very still and watched him get what she thought was additional ammunition from the backpack.

There was a woman in front of the reception desk who was bleeding from her knees. He asked her to show him the way to a second floor of the spa, she said.

“She said, ‘I am so sorry sir, I can’t, I’m shot, I can’t stand up,’ ” Brunner said.

Then she watched the man go up the stairs alone.

Soon after, fire alarms and sprinklers systems were activated as SWAT teams arrived. Brunner ran out to a parking lot in bare feet.

Brunner, whose husband retired after 44 years as a police officer, said she credits her husband telling her to watch as much as she could and to keep vigilant.

“I want to emphasize how very brave Zina was because she was a hero. I’m sure she saved a lot of lives by trying to de-escalate the situation,” said Brunner. “She was just brave and courageous throughout the whole thing.”

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