WAUKESHA CO. -- 76-year-old Richard Petarius is now charged with multiple felony counts in connection with a shooting incident at a Waukesha condominium complex on Tuesday, October 23rd. He made his initial appearance in court on Thursday, October 25th.
The charges against Petarius include attempted first-degree intentional homicide, recklessly endangering safety, armed burglary, false imprisonment, possession of a firearm, possession of a short-barreled shotgun, attempted aggravated battery and knowingly violating a domestic abuse injunction.
The criminal complaint indicates Petarius showed up at the condo where his ex-wife lived around 4:15 p.m. This, after the two had spent part of the day in court for a contempt hearing against Petarius over money. According to the victim statement, Petarius was carrying a shotgun and ordered her to go inside to talk. During the scuffle, his ex-wife was hurt.
"He pushed her. (She) fell to the ground. I think she was injured at that point in time and broke her arm (and suffered an) injury to her face," prosecuting attorney Pablo Galavis said.
Petarius and the victim had been married more than 50 years and divorced in March 2012.
The complaint says Petarius confronted the victim inside the condo. He told police in his statement that he was angry and wanted to know why his wife divorced him. The victim told police Petarius said "He was in charge now."
In court, Petarius' demeanor was in no way as commanding, as he wiped tears from his eyes.
"Very upset. The marriage is what he is upset about. That it's ended," defense attorney Pete Salza said.
During the conversation between Petarius and his ex-wife, Petarius' ex-wife was able to call her daughter, who called police. Police arrived at the condo, and when they knocked on the door, the victim opened the door and an officer pulled her to safety. At the same time, the officer noticed Petarius had a shotgun and she fired at him. The complaint says Petarius returned fire "to prevent the officer from coming inside and shooting at him."
After the officer got the victim to safety, Petarius apparently called his son, daughter and his lawyer. They all urged him to surrender.
"He may have been thinking about committing suicide. I guess there is inference that he was there to kill," Galavis said.
"Was he planning to commit suicide? That I don`t know, but I can prove he wasn't there to kill his wife," Salza said.
Petarius eventually surrendered to police.
Bail for Petarius was set at $500,000 on Thursday, October 25th. His preliminary hearing is set for Thursday, November 1st. If convicted of the charges, Petarius faces up to 60 years in prison.
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