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Area woman shot by murder suspect on I-90/94 in Wisconsin dies

Tracy Czaczkowski | Facebook photo

A north suburban woman critically injured by a murder suspect in an apparently random shooting Sunday afternoon on I-90/94 in Wisconsin has died, according to police.

Tracy Czaczkowski, 44, of Buffalo Grove was in a BMW with her family on I-90/94 near mile marker 95 about 2:55 p.m. Sunday when a 20-year-old man fired shots from a 1998 Chevrolet Blazer, according to the Sauk County sheriff’s office.

Czaczkowski was shot in the neck and was taken to the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison, according to a statement from the Dane County sheriff’s office, who confirmed on Tuesday that she has died at the hospital as a result of the gunshot wound.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency also confirmed the death in a statement: “We are sad to announce just days before Mother’s Day the passing of Tracy Czaczkowski.

“Tracy passed away due to injuries received from a gunshot wound on May 01, 2016, while traveling on I-90, returning from a weekend family trip. Tracy was a loving wife of 15 years, a mother of two tender age children, daughter and good friend to all. Tracy’s husband has been a DEA employee for 11 years in service to his community and country,” the agency said.

Earlier Sunday, the 20-year-old suspect fatally shot a 42-year-old man in an apartment building in the 2300 block of South 92nd Street in West Allis, Wisconsin, according to the sheriff’s office.

He fled the scene in the Blazer with his two brothers, ages 30 and 34, and headed for Wisconsin Dells, according to the sheriff’s office.

Czaczkowski’s husband was driving, and as he passed the Blazer, the driver rolled down his window and fired three rounds into the vehicle. The Blazer then continued eastbound with a witness following, according to the sheriff’s office.

Authorities don’t know why he fired at the BMW, which had the couple in the front seats and their two minor children in back, all returning home from a vacation in Wisconsin Dells, the sheriff’s office said.

The DEA said it was unaware of any markings on the car that would identify the driver as a federal employee.

“The first round entered the rear passenger side door of the vehicle and lodged inside the door. The second round entered the front passenger window and struck the victim in the neck. As the driver was slowing down to pull over, a third round was fired into the hood of his vehicle,” the statement from the sheriff’s office said.

Another vehicle, a Nissan, was struck by at least one round, but that driver, a woman from Florida, was not injured.

Columbia County Sheriff Dennis Richards speaks during a press conference at the Wisconsin State Patrol’s DeForest Post on Monday. On Sunday, a suspect in a suburban Milwaukee homicide was shot and wounded by police near DeForest after also firing on a car
Columbia County Sheriff Dennis Richards speaks during a press conference at the Wisconsin State Patrol’s DeForest Post on Monday. On Sunday, a suspect in a suburban Milwaukee homicide was shot and wounded by police near DeForest after also firing on a car on the highway, striking an Illinois woman. | Michael P. King/Wisconsin State Journal, distributed by the Associated Press

The victim’s husband then pulled over and tried to help his wife until an ambulance arrived. The man and children were not injured, according to the sheriff’s office.

Czaczkowski was taken to St. Clare Hospital in Baraboo, then flown to the UW Hospital by helicopter, the sheriff’s office said.

After the shooting, witnesses, including one in a vehicle following the Blazer, called 911 and troopers from the Wisconsin State Patrol, deputies from the Columbia County sheriff’s office and a Lodi police officer pursued, according to the Dane County sheriff’s office.

As the Blazer crossed into Dane County, a sheriff’s deputy deployed road spikes, disabling the vehicle, according to the sheriff’s office.

The suspect got out of the vehicle and began to walk toward the officers with a revolver. As the man continued to advance toward police, officers told him to stop, and two Columbia County deputies shot him, police said.

The shooter was also taken to University of Wisconsin Hospital, where he remains in custody, according to the statement.

The suspect, a 20-year-old West Allis, Wisconsin, man, had not been charged as of late Tuesday afternoon, but a spokesman for the Dane County sheriff’s office said, “Multiple counties — including Milwaukee, Columbia, Sauk, and Dane — are continuing to investigate collaboratively to determine what charges will be referred to the respective district attorneys.”

His two brothers were also taken into custody after a second gun was recovered from the Blazer.

On Tuesday, Jeremy A. Hays, 30, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to Dane County police. The other brother, 34, suffers from a cognitive disability and has not been charged.

Czaczkowski’s children attend St. Mary School in Buffalo Grove, according to a statement from the Archdiocese of Chicago.

“Please know that the St. Mary Parish and School communities are praying for Tracy Czaczkowksi and her family, and that the family has requested privacy at this time,” according to the statement.

The DEA statement added: “The family would like to thank everyone for their prayers and outpouring of support for Tracy. Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time. Those wishing to assist the children with future needs such as funding for education are asked to visit the GoFundMe page” to help offset funeral expenses and assist the family.