Updated at 3 p.m. Thursday
Dick Petarius, who was a clown with Tripoli Shrine in 2008, is charged with the attempted homicide of a Waukesha Police officer.
Petarius, 76, of Watertown, is accused of firing a 12-gauge shotgun at Police Officer Amanda Bauer while she was investigating a domestic dispute at his ex-wife’s house. The gun was fired within inches of Bauer, who fired her gun when she saw Petarius approaching with a rifle or a shotgun, according to the criminal complaint.
“It appeared to (Petarius’ ex-wife) that the officer was shielding her from the gun fire,” the complaint states.
Petarius is facing nine other charges, including armed burglary, false imprisonment, intimidation of a victim, possession of a firearm contrary to domestic abuse injunction, possession of a short-barreled shotgun or rifle, attempted aggravated battery of an elderly person, violating a domestic abuse injunction and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety.
Petarius, who previously lived in Sussex, could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of all charges. His bail was set at $500,000.
Waukesha County Assistant District Attorney Pablo Galaviz said Petarius stole his son-in-law’s shotgun before he left their residence in Neenah on Monday and the son-in-law was unaware the gun was missing.
Petarius also made suicidal statements, Galaviz said.
“The defendant is obviously a danger to himself, clearly. … There are inferences there that he was there to kill (his ex-wife),” Galaviz said in court.
But Petarius’ attorney, Peter Salza, said those claims are “preposterous, not true.”
“I can prove he wasn’t there to kill his wife,” Salza said.
“I know him, he is not a killer,” Salza added. “He is tremendous. Everybody that knows him loves him – great guy.”
Salza said Petarius was at the residence to talk to his former wife about his marriage. However, Salza said he hasn’t been able to talk to Petarius to learn why a gun was brought to the home.
Petarius also did not intend to kill Bauer, Salza said. Officers fired 26 rounds at Petarius while leaving the residence with Petarius’ ex-wife, according to police. Petarius told authorities he fired his gun, which was filled with birdshot, when Bauer yelled “gun” and began shooting, according to the criminal complaint.
“Listen, this man is a veteran,” Salza said. “If he wanted to hit that officer, he would have hit her.”