MADISON, Wis. (Sun-Times Media Wire) - A 20-year-old man has been charged with fatally shooting a north suburban woman Sunday afternoon in what police are calling a “random” incident on I-90/94 in Wisconsin.
Zachary Hays, of West Allis, Wisconsin, faces one count of first-degree intentional homicide and three counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, all felonies, according to the Sauk County district attorney’s office.
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 Hays 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, where she later died, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.
Authorities suspect Hays fatally shot a 42-year-old man earlier Sunday in an apartment building in the 2300 block of South 92nd Street in West Allis, authorities said.
He fled the scene in his Blazer with his two brothers, ages 30 and 34, and were headed south from Wisconsin Dells, according to the sheriff’s office.
Czaczkowski’s husband was driving, and as he passed the Blazer, Hays rolled down his window and fired three rounds into the vehicle. The Blazer then continued eastbound with a witness following, authorities said.
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, 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.
Another vehicle, a Nissan, was also struck by at least one round, but the female driver from Florida was not injured.
“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 police said.
Czaczkowski’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.
She was taken to St. Clare Hospital in Baraboo, and then flown to the UW Hospital in Madison by helicopter, the sheriff’s office said.
After the shooting, witnesses, including one 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 the Blazer, 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.
Hays 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, authorities said.
Hays was also taken to UW Hospital, according to police.
Hays faces life in prison for the homicide charge and may be fined up to $25,000 or face up to 12 years in prison for each of the three reckless endangerment charges, according to the district attorney’s office.
His 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.
Friends and family members have started a GoFundMe page to help the family.