Azana shooter among 4 who used illegal weapons to kill in 2012

Azana Salon and Spa shooter Radcliffe Haughton was among four Wisconsin men who were prohibited from possessing guns, yet used them to kill their wives or girlfriends in 2012, according to a new report from End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin.

Since 2000, there have been 499 domestic violence homicides in the state. At least 53 of the victims were killed by a domestic abuser with an illegal gun, according to the advocacy group. Another 189 were killed with legal guns.

One of the most recent was Zoey Krueger, 22, fatally shot by her boyfriend Nov. 5 at a motel in Jefferson. Carl Avery, 25, had been charged with trying to strangle Krueger less than a year before he killed her. Another woman had a restraining order against him, which made it illegal for him to have a gun.

Inquisitive and strong-willed, Krueger was a social butterfly who lit up a room, according to her mother, Teresa Coy. Krueger also didn't like to give up on people. If she saw something good in them, she was willing to stick with them for the long haul.

Krueger had been seeing Avery for just over a year. The morning of her death, she had realized enough was enough and tried to leave, her mother said.

Krueger was the second woman in her family to die in a domestic violence incident, her mother said. Coy's cousin, Barbara Heine, was fatally shot by her boyfriend in 1998.

"One shove can lead to your life being taken," Coy said. "It's unfair to the victims. Zoey. My cousin. They had no choice."

In all, 52 people — 10 of them in Milwaukee County — died in 38 domestic violence incidents in the state last year, the report says. Four of those were perpetrator suicides.

The report, released Monday, also updates the 2011 numbers, which were released a year ago. According to the updated figures, 31 incidents resulted in 37 deaths, including three perpetrator suicides in 2011.

The advocacy group, formerly known as the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, has tracked domestic violence deaths statewide for 12 years. During that time, the high was 67, in 2009.

In 2012, victims' ages ranged from less than 1 to 84 and included one baby born at five months gestation when her mother was choked and beaten, according to the report. They lived in 21 different counties. Also in 2012, 86% of perpetrators were male.

"These tragedies must call us to do better. Domestic violence homicides are preventable homicides, but too often abusers are not held accountable and are allowed to illegally possess guns to threaten, injure and sometimes kill their victims," said Patti Seger, executive director of End Abuse.

Although the right to bear arms is guaranteed under the Second Amendment, there are exceptions. Felons, people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence and people with domestic abuse restraining orders against them are barred from owning guns.

Under Wisconsin law, judges don't know if domestic abusers own firearms, and if an abuser lies about owning guns or ignores a court order to turn them over, there is often no follow-up and no penalty.

A pending bipartisan bill would change that, setting up a process for allowing courts to verify whether people subject to domestic violence and child abuse restraining orders surrender their weapons.

But even if such a law already had been in place, it likely would not have prevented Haughton from killing his estranged wife and two of her co-workers at Azana and wounding four others before committing suicide.

That's because it is not against the law to sell a gun to someone who is the subject of a restraining order, and the bill does not change that.

When a restraining order was granted to Zina Haughton against her husband three days before the shooting at Azana, he did not have any guns. But within 48 hours of leaving court, he purchased one from an online dealer.

Officials at End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin would like to see universal background checks on gun sales, no matter how or where those sales occur.

"Requiring background checks on gun sales is a tangible policy that would make this report shorter in future years," the document says.

The report also points out two types of domestic violence homicides that seem to be increasing in prevalence: homicides in the workplace and homicides involving veterans.

In addition to the workplace deaths of Zina Haughton, Maelyn Lind and Cary Robuck at Azana, the report notes the death of Ann Schueller, 51, of Wausaukee, whose ex-boyfriend stalked and harassed her before fatally shooting her at the gas station where she worked. He was a convicted felon, which made it illegal for him to possess the rifle he used to kill her.

The third workplace incident resulted in the death of Wauwatosa police officer Jennifer Sebena, killed by her husband, Benjamin Sebena, while she was on duty.

Benjamin Sebena and Radcliffe Haughton also were among three veterans to commit domestic violence-related homicides in 2011 and 2012.

The third was James Cruckson, who fatally shot Fond du Lac police officer Craig Birkholz in 2011, according to the report. Cruckson's girlfriend drove to the police station and reported that he had sexually assaulted her. She told police her 6-year-old daughter was possibly still in the house. Three officers entered the house to try to rescue the girl. Cruckson shot one of them twice. Birkholz responded to a call for backup and also was hit twice, in areas not protected by his Kevlar vest. Cruckson later killed himself.

So far in 2013, three women have been killed by their intimate partners who were veterans, according to Tony Gibart, public policy and communications coordinator at End Abuse. One of them was Toni Voss, 27, who lived in Adams County with her boyfriend, Coleman Dybul, a Marine who reportedly was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder after serving several combat tours in Afghanistan.

On the night of March 2, Dybul woke up, heard a noise and thought he saw someone outside the couple's bedroom window. He screamed, and Voss also screamed, Dybul told police. He said he believed someone was choking Voss, so he picked up the loaded shotgun he kept next to the bed and fired. When he turned on the lights, he realized there was no intruder and he had shot Voss in the chest, Dybul told police. He has been charged with first-degree reckless homicide.

"The intersection of domestic violence and the military is a sensitive and timely subject," the report says. "... We do not suggest that veterans are generally more violent than civilians. ... Most men and women who serve in the military will never be violent when they return home. Yet, because domestic violence knows no bounds, any large segment of the population — like the veteran and military service personnel population — is necessarily going to include a percentage of batterers."

The Military Advocacy Program of the Battered Women's Justice Project has concluded there is no way to know whether serving in combat causes domestic violence, the report says. However, some research suggests that "certain aspects of military and combat experience may exacerbate the dynamics of domestic violence," according to the report. "Additionally, health conditions such as post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, which are seen among individuals who have been in combat, may independently explain some violent behavior."