The owner of Azana Salon & Spa paid tribute Tuesday to her three employees who lost their lives in Sunday's spa shooting, thanked the community for its support and urged a dialogue on preventing domestic violence.
Her voice trembling with emotion, Tami Gemmell said, "Our hearts are broken over the loss of our colleagues. They were heroic in their actions and protective of each other to the end."
- See Patch's complete coverage of Sunday's mass shooting
She cited Zina Haughton, Cary Robuck and Maelyn Lind by name, stopping to talk about each woman's special talents and personality. One name she did not mention was Radcliffe Haughton, Zina's estranged husband who shot Zina and six others just one day after he bought a gun and three days after a court ordered him to stay away from his wife for four years.
But Gemmell said: "I hope that if there is any good to come out of this, it is that we, as a community, open a serious dialog about domestic violence."
Gemmell did not take any questions, including about past problems with Radcliffe Haughton, who on Oct. 4 slashed his wife's car tires in the spa lot, police reports say. A spa employee told Patch the business recently put signs on all but the main entrance saying to keep the doors locked until further notice.
"My top priority and concern is for my employees, our clients and their loved ones," Gemmell said. "Buildings can be restored, equipment can be replaced, but the human loss can never be measured."
Gemmell was in Chicago Sunday morning, deboarding a plane returning from Germany, when she learned about the shooting at the salon she has owned for about 12 years.
She has cooperated with Brookfield law enforcement and earlier Tuesday, held a staff meeting at the Westmoor Country Club, immediately next door to Azana, where she also held her press conference.
Gemmell thanked police, first responders, hospital staff, the Salvation Army, Milwaukee County Transit system and community at large for the "incredible and inspiring.... outpouring of love and concern."
"From the bottom of our hearts, our family at Azana thanks you for your prayers and continuing support through this very difficult time," she said.
"To our clients, I want to say that we know this is a big loss for you as well. The relationship between a stylist and a nail tech and their clients is unique and personal," she said. "All of us at Azana want you to know that we are there for you and we share in your loss."
Calling them heroes, Gemmell shared memories of each woman who died:
Zina: "One of the hardest workers I've ever known. She loved doing hair and gave her heart and soul to her clients. She was an extraordinary mom and friend to so many."
Cary: "The biggest sweetheart. She lived for her daughter and her family."
Maelyn: "An amazing mom and a new grandmother. She was so cheerful and always smiling."
And for the three other employees and one client who were wounded and hospitalized (three were in stable condition Tuesday and one was released Monday), Gemmell said, "We all share in the hope that they will heal quickly and we will provide continuing support and love as they recover from the physical and emotional trauma of Sunday's tragedy."
Gemmell mentioned the benefit fund established at Associated Bank for the children and families of those who died and were injured. Donations can be provided to any Associated Bank branch (for questions, call 262-784-3370).
A spokesperson for Gemmell said it is not known when Azana will reopen. The police tape was gone Tuesday and a large Dumpster was near the main entrance, with cabinetry lying on the ground.