Prosecutors charge man in Wisconsin interstate shooting

AP News
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Posted: May 04, 2016 8:30 PM

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin prosecutors filed charges Wednesday against a 20-year-old man accused of killing a woman in a random drive-by shooting along an interstate while she was driving home to Illinois with her husband and two children.

Zachary Hays, who also is suspected of killing of a man hours earlier in suburban Milwaukee, was charged with one count of first-degree intentional homicide and three counts of reckless endangering safety. The homicide charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Online court records don't list an attorney for Hays, who was shot by police following the interstate incident and remained hospitalized Wednesday. Calls to phone numbers listed for his family have gone unanswered.

Tracy Czaczkowski, 44, and her family were returning to their home in Buffalo Grove, a Chicago suburb, after spending the weekend in the resort city of Wisconsin Dells when they passed a Chevrolet Blazer that Hays was driving on Interstate 90/94. Hays opened fire on the family's BMW sedan, hitting Czaczkowski in the neck, according to investigators.

Police later stopped the Blazer with a spike strip and shot Hayes after he emerged with a gun, according to officers.

Investigators believe the shooting was random. Czaczkowski's husband works for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, but authorities have said there is no indication the family was targeted. Czaczkowski was hospitalized in critical condition after the shooting, but she was later removed from life support.

Investigators also believe Hays killed 42-year-old Gabriel Sanchez earlier on Sunday in an apartment in West Allis, the Milwaukee suburb where Hays lived. Milwaukee prosecutors haven't charged Hays in Sanchez's death.

Two of Hays' brothers also were in the Blazer on Sunday. Jeremy Hays, 30, was being held on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He has not been charged. Authorities haven't identified the other brother because of his cognitive disability.

The complaint said Jeremy Hays told investigators that Zachary Hays had been "acting extremely paranoid" since smoking marijuana on April 27, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. Zachary Hays was driving erratically on Sunday with a loaded pistol on his lap that he would point at cars on the interstate, the complaint said.

Zachary Hays was especially paranoid about cars with tinted windows, Jeremy Hays told investigators, and was "freaking out" when a BMW with tinted windows carrying the Czaczkowski family approached the Blazer from behind. Zachary Hays slowed down to let the BMW catch up on his left and then fired three times from the rolled-down driver's side window as the sedan passed, the complaint said.

The bullet went through Tracy Czaczkowski's neck, Sauk County sheriff's Det. Justin Hannagan said. Czaczkowski's husband, who was driving, and the couple's two children, who were buckled into car seats in the back seat, were not hurt.

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