Waukesha police release more information on violent domestic dispute

WAUKESHA — The Waukesha Police Department released new information in the domestic shooting involving a 76-year-old man and his 75-year-old ex-wife. Police say they responded to the domestic incident around 4:13 p.m. Tuesday, October 23rd. They say the residence, located in the 1800 block of Racine Ave., has a history of domestic related incidents.

Police entered the residence at the Wyndwood Condominiums on Racine Avenue early Tuesday evening. They were talking with the 75-year-old victim when her 76-year-old ex-husband Richard Petarius appeared, armed.

"The suspect pointed a long gun at the officers and fired two rounds.The officers then returned fire and disengaged out of the residence with the victim," Waukesha Police Chief Russell Jack said.

Chief Jack says in the end, the officers had fired off 26 rounds inside and near the apartment complex.

Streets in the area were blocked off as police handled the situation, and traffic was backed up in the area.

Police say Petarius does not live in the home, but was there to talk with his ex-wife after the couple was in court for a hearing that went against Petarius earlier that day.

Petarius' exact intentions are unknown at this time, although he made a statement that could serve as a clue.

"The suspect did make remarks to his daughter that he was married 53 years ago -- until death do we part," Chief Jack said.

Fortunately, no one was killed.

Chief Jack says Petarius' ex-wife suffered a broken arm after Petarius pushed her down. An officer responding to the scene also received minor injuries.

"One officer suffered a minor grazing head wound possibly caused by debris from the round fired from the suspect," Chief Jack said.

Petarius was put on a domestic abuse temporary restraining order back in 2010, and police say that order was violated Tuesday.

Neighbors reacted Tuesday evening after hearing the sounds of gunshots echoing through their Waukesha neighborhood.

FOX6 News viewer Ann Siverling said members of a SWAT team were running through her neighborhood and backyard. She told FOX6 News her husband heard several “pops,” which could have been gunshots. She also said she heard police yelling at someone.

Sally Jansen is the president of the Condo Association and told FOX6 News Petarius is all too familiar with police. Jansen said she once saw him restrained during a condo meeting.

“About two or three years ago he was hauled off by the police officers for domestic abuse from our premises, and told he couldn’t come back for four years,” Jansen said.

Investigators say the man’s wife had filed for divorce not long after a restraining order against him was filed.

“He’s been like this for over 13 years, with a lot of abuse emotionally and physically,” Jansen said.

Following Tuesday's incident, Petarius faces a multitude of possible charges. Police are recommending charges of domestic and substantial battery, violation of domestic abuse injunction and false imprisonment. There may be gun-related charges filed as well, as investigators work to determine Petarius' intentions when firing at officers.

Petarius could be formally charged as early as Thursday.

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