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Four dead as husband goes on gun spree at wife's spa

A MAN who had been accused of domestic violence and slashing his wife's tyres took a gun into the spa where she worked and shot seven women, three fatally, before killing himself, a US police chief said.

The shootings set off a confusing, six-hour search for the gunman that locked down a nearby mall, a country club and the local hospital.

The search froze activity in a commercial area in Brookfield, west of Milwaukee, for much of yesterday.

Ultimately, he was found dead in the spa.

At a news conference last night, Mayor Steve Ponto called the shootings "a senseless act on the part of one person."

The chaos started around 11am at the Azana Day Spa.

The first officers on the scene found the building filled with smoke from a fire authorities believe was set by the suspect, Radcliffe Franklin Haughton (45).

They also found a 1lb propane tank they initially thought might be an improvised explosive device, Police Chief Dan Tushaus said. That slowed the search of the building as police waited for a bomb squad to clear the scene.

While officers initially thought the gunman had fled the building, they later found his body in a locked room. The bodies of the victims were also found in the spa.

Tushaus said the four survivors were aged between 22 and 40. It wasn't clear if the man's wife was among the victims.

Haughton had recently been arrested after witnesses identified him as the person who slashed his wife's tyres, police said.

He appeared in court on Thursday.

A four-year restraining order was issued, and Haughton was ordered to turn any firearms over to the sheriff's department.

A sea of ambulances and police vehicles collected at the scene shortly after the shooting.

A witness, David Gosh, said he was returning from duck hunting when he saw a woman emerge from the spa, screaming.

"She ran right out into the street was pounding on cars," Gosh said. Moments later, a man with a handgun ran out. He appeared to be chasing the woman but then went back inside, Gosh said.