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Man Charged With Shooting at Police Receiving Mental Evaluation

Richard A. Petarius, 76, could spend the rest of his life in prison if he's convicted of an attempted homicide charge.

The 76-year-old man accused of firing a rifle at Waukesha police officers will undergo a mental evaluation to determine if he is competent for trial.

Richard A. Petarius, of Watertown, could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of the nine charges that range from attempted homicide of a police officer to violating a domestic abuse injunction.

Petarius, who is being held at the Waukesha County Jail on $500,000 bail, will return to court at 10 a.m. Nov. 16.

Petarius, who was a clown with Tripoli Shrine in 2008, is accused of pointing a shotgun at officers investigating a domestic abuse incident at Petarius’ ex-wife’s Racine Avenue home Oct. 23. Police shot at him before he returned fire, according to a criminal complaint.

Officers shot 26 times at Petarius while getting to safety with Petarius’ ex-wife. One police officer was struck by bullet debris from Petarius’ shot, but Petarius was uninjured, according to the complaint.

The Waukesha officers’ call for backup prompted a large response with dozens of squad cars from other southeastern Wisconsin police agencies and the FBI.

The domestic violence incident occurred two days after Radcliffe Haughton shot and killed three women at a Brookfield spa. Haughton was ordered to not possess guns as a term of a restraining order his wife, Zina Haughton, had obtained against him. Zina Haughton, a hairstylist at the Azana Salon & Spa, was killed in the shooting.

The two cases had similar backgrounds with vastly different conclusions. Petarius was also ordered to have no weapons as a condition of a restraining order filed against him. However, he stole his son-in-law’s shotgun while staying with him in Neenah, according to the criminal complaint.

Petarius’ wife told officers she endured decades of abuse and divorced Petarius in March, the complaint states.

Fred van der Wal November 02, 2012 at 04:11 PM
He's 76? Not going to be a long life sentence
Sarah Millard (Editor) November 02, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Fred, technically he doesn't face a life sentence. However, because of the length of prison time he's facing if convicted, it's effectively equal to a life sentence.

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