Standing in a Darien apartment with a bullet in his chest, William W. Swift pleaded for someone to call 911.
Rebecca L. Kohs and her friend who lived in the apartment searched the living room for a phone.
But as the friend dialed 911, Steven W. Kohs—the man Rebecca was divorcing—stormed back inside and said “Who wants to die tonight?”
Then he started shooting again.
The friend told police she ran down the hallway while on the phone and grabbed two children to hide them in a bathtub behind the shower curtain.
Steven shot Swift eight times. He shot Rebecca in the head, but she survived.
Responding officers at about midnight on Dec. 2 found Steven laying near his van outside the apartment in a pool of blood, dead from two apparent gunshot wounds to his chest and head.
The details of the case come from police reports obtained by The Gazette from an open-records request. They contain more information than police had in the days after the shooting.
Delavan Police Chief Jim Hansen said Monday his department considers the murder-suicide case closed.
He said it appears Steven was also trying to kill Rebecca, who was treated and released from a hospital.
Rebecca, her friend and the two children had gone to the friend’s apartment Dec. 1 to watch Christmas movies. After the kids fell asleep, Swift, who was described as a friend, arrived.
The night before the shooting, Rebecca and Steven discussed a divorce, she later told police. Online court records show Rebecca had filed for divorce on Feb. 5, 2018, but the case was dismissed about five weeks later.
The friend told police the plan had been to file divorce papers the week following the shooting.
Steven, the friend said, had threatened her and Rebecca before. Steven had also said he would end his own life, she said.
A woman who said she had known Rebecca, 39, and Steven, 34, for about six years told police Steven reached out to her via Facebook Messenger the week before the shooting. He asked what it was like being a single parent.
The two agreed to meet. But when Steven asked about getting dinner Dec. 1—hours before the shooting—the woman said that night didn’t work for her.
But Steven showed up unannounced to her home that night anyway—pounding on her front door and later her patio door, ringing her doorbell and sending her more Facebook messages. The woman told police she hid in her bathroom.
The woman said Steven told her to “stop panicking and to answer the door,” according to the reports. He asked her how mad she was on a scale of 1 to 10.
Steven later called and left a message, apologizing.
Steven also called Rebecca and her friend’s home that night, first saying there was something wrong with his dad. When Rebecca answered and asked about Steven’s father, he asked why Swift was at the apartment.
After more questions from Steven, Rebecca then heard the front doorknob jiggle. Steven entered the apartment and announced he was going to kill everyone.
The friend, who had fallen asleep about 30 minutes earlier, said she heard “pop pop pop.” She walked into the living room, where Swift, bleeding from a chest wound, told her to call 911.
Moments later, Steven returned and fired several more shots.
A few days later, Rebecca told police she was being harassed about the incident through her social media pages.
Because Rebecca lived in Walworth, the village’s police agency handled that investigation.
Walworth Police Chief Ryan Milligan said Monday none of the messages showed criminal intent, so police offered Rebecca advice on how to deal with it.
Hansen said such a case was “absolutely” rare for the village of Darien, a village with a population of about 1,600.
“We hate seeing this happen in our communities,” he said.
Another killing just 4 miles away in the town of Delavan also involved a husband and wife considering divorce.
About one month after the Darien shooting, Robert J. Scott, 56, fatally stabbed his wife, Rochelle R. Scott, 58, according to a criminal complaint. Walworth County prosecutors charged Robert with first-degree intentional homicide. His case is ongoing.
A ‘generous soul’
Swift, 48, was a professional roofer who loved his nieces and nephews as if they were his own children, according to his obituary. He enjoyed being on his boat on sunny days and his snowmobile in the winter.
“William would light the room with one flash of those pearly whites,” the obituary states. “His smile could be seen across a football field.”
Swift, who was also known as Billy, learned from his parents how to be a “generous soul.”
As an organ donor, Swift “gifted life” to more than 15 others, the obituary states.
“Billy will live on.”