DEFOREST, Wis. (AP) — Deputies shot and wounded a suspect in the weekend killing of a man in a suburban Milwaukee apartment and the wounding of a woman hours later while she was traveling home to Illinois with her family on a busy highway, authorities said Monday.
It all began around 7 a.m. Sunday, when police in West Allis received a report of a man forcing his way into a pair of apartments. Responding officers found 42-year-old Gabriel Sanchez fatally shot, authorities said. The 20-year old suspect also had made threats to a member of Epikos Church, which canceled Sunday evening services in Milwaukee.
The suspect and his two brothers later drove in a Chevrolet Blazer to Wisconsin Dells, a city known for its theme parks. They were traveling south on Interstate 90/94 toward Madison on Sunday afternoon when a family of four — a 43-year-old man, his 44-year-old wife and their children — passed them on their way back to Illinois after a weekend in the resort city.
The 20-year-old man was driving the Blazer and opened fire on the family's BMW sedan, Dane County Sheriff's spokeswoman Elise Schaffer said. He shot the car twice, hitting the mother in the neck, authorities said. Another round struck a Nissan sedan, but the Florida woman driving that car wasn't hurt.
Other motorists called 911. Officers from multiple agencies chased the Blazer into Dane County, where deputies stopped the SUV with a spike strip.
The 20-year-old man then emerged from the vehicle holding a revolver. He ignored orders to drop the weapon and two Columbia County deputies shot him, authorities said.
Both the Illinois woman and the suspect were taken to the University of Wisconsin Hospital. The suspect's brothers, ages 30 and 34, were taken to the Dane County Jail.
At a news conference Monday, Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney described the woman's condition as "very critical." He declined to provide any additional information about the family, saying they had asked for privacy. Schaffer didn't immediately respond to a message later Monday afternoon inquiring about the suspect's condition. UW Hospital media officials also didn't immediately return an email.
The suspect hasn't been formally charged and authorities have not released his name.
Mahoney couldn't explain why the man decided to attack the family, saying only that it appeared to be random and the investigation continues.
The state Department of Justice is investigating the deputies' decision to shoot the suspect. They have been placed on administrative leave, Columbia County Sheriff Dennis Richards said during the news conference. One of the deputies has been with the department for nine and a half years, Richards said. The other has worked as a deputy for four and a half years.
West Allis Deputy Police Chief Robert Fletcher didn't immediately respond to a voicemail seeking more information about the Sanchez slaying.
Associated Press writer Gretchen Ehlke in Milwaukee contributed to this report.