When two Waukesha police officers engaged in a shootout with a domestic violence suspect in late October, the request for backup from surrounding jurisdictions was fast with squad car after squad car pulling up to the scene on Racine Avenue.
Dozens of area law enforcement officers, including the FBI, responded in great force to assist with a shots-fired call. Police Chief Russell Jack said during Thursday’s Waukesha Common Council meeting that he was surprised to see a Butler Police Department squad car had responded to the scene.
“At first I wondered why Butler was on scene," Jack said. "It happened to be that our shooting happened right as the debriefing of the Azana shooting in Brookfield was complete, so all those officer responded to our scene. We had an overwhelming police presence to ensure this was a very safe incident."
Police say 76-year-old Richard Petarius violated a domestic abuse injunction and brought a stolen gun to speak with his ex-wife when he was angry following a court hearing that went against him. Days after three women were shot dead by a man who also had a restraining order filed against him, Petarius fired two shots at the officers that were investigating a report that he was at his ex-wife’s home, according to a criminal complaint.
Dozens of police officers and dispatchers played an important role in the following hours, Jack said.
But the two responding officers – Amanda Bauer and Jan Corrigan – showed they were willing to risk their lives to protect the older woman who thought her ex-husband would have shot her if it wasn’t for their actions, Jack said.
"There are a lot of people who did a lot of good things on this day to keep everyone safe, obviously not in comparison to Jan or Amanda," the police chief said. "We chose not to recognize any other members of our department or other agencies with official awards (in order to) not detract from the excellent work and bravery of these two officers."
Bauer and Corrigan were presented with a valor award – the highest award a Waukesha police officer can earn – by Jack in front of a packed room at City Hall. The two officers received a standing ovation for their actions that day after Jack read the following proclamation:
On October 23, 2012 the Waukesha Police Dispatch Center received a 911 call from family members reporting a domestic abuse incident between their elderly parents. The callers were concerned that their father was upset over a recent restraining order and court appearance, and that he was at their mother’s residence to do her harm. Officer Bauer and Officer Corrigan responded to the residence in emergency fashion.
Upon arrival the couple could be seen through the front window talking and Officer Bauer made contact at the front door. Initially, the male didn’t allow the female to answer the door, but Officer Bauer yelled for her to open the door so they could talk. As the female opened the door, Officer Bauer could sense the dangerous situation and she immediately escorted the female out of the house.
Once the female was out of the residence, Officer Bauer began speaking with the male who was not allowing her to enter the residence. A few seconds later the male walked away from Officer Bauer back into the residence and retrieved a sawed off shotgun from the living room. Moments later, Officer Bauer peeked around the foyer wall to see the male walking toward her with a shotgun pointed in her direction. Officer Bauer yelled at the male to “drop the weapon” but he did not. He continued walking toward Officer Bauer forcing her to shoot at the male to stop the threat. The male then shot at Officer Bauer twice with the shotgun. Officer Bauer was able to retreat out of the residence and ran up to the elderly female who was now lying face down on the sidewalk. Fearing the female was shot, Officer Bauer yelled for the female to get up but she could not. Officer Bauer kept herself in harms way by dragging the female to safety approximately 15-20 feet away.
Moments after the shooting began; Officer Corrigan radioed “Shots Fired, 10-78” which means officer needs assistance. At that time, Officer Corrigan feared for the life of both Officer Bauer and the victim, as well as himself, and he began shooting at the last known location of the suspect. This Target Specific Directed Fire allowed Officer Bauer to drag the injured female to safety and prevented the suspect from shooting at them from inside the residence. The male was eventually taken into custody later that day without further incident. The female victim later stated that her husband was going to kill her and then himself inside the house if the officers hadn’t intervened and saved her.
The actions of Officer Amanda Bauer and Officer Jan Corrigan demonstrate the highest possible level of bravery, courage, and teamwork, while in the line of duty. Their actions that day were nothing short of selfless and they put themselves in harms way in the defense of others.
Officer Amanda Bauer and Officer Jan Corrigan are awarded the Waukesha Police Department’s Citation of Valor, the highest award presented by the Department to its members, in recognition of their bravery and courage under fire, in the line of duty.
'I Didn't Feel Good About It'
Bauer gave a public account of her actions on Oct. 23 during a preliminary hearing Thursday afternoon against Petarius. Waukesha County Court Commissioner Thomas Pieper ordered Petarius be held over for trial after Bauer and two Waukesha detectives spoke about the shooting and the subsequent interviews with Petarius and his ex-wife.
When Bauer arrived at the residence, she looked through a window and saw Petarius with his ex-wife. When Petarius refused to come to the door and wouldn’t let the elderly woman answer, Bauer said, Bauer threatened to kick down the door.
“I felt that the way he was acting toward me was not good,” Bauer said.
When the door eventually opened, Bauer pulled the woman out and sent her to Corrigan. Bauer turned to talk to Petarius, who had turned around and wouldn’t speak with police, she said.
“I didn’t feel good about it,” said Bauer, who described how she peeked around the corner to watch him. “As soon as I got eyes on him, he turned around and he was holding a long gun.”
Bauer said she saw Petarius raise the gun toward her, so she fired at Petarius. Eventually, she heard “a gunshot that wasn’t mine” and felt something strike the side of her face, Bauer said during court. Authorities in a criminal complaint state that Bauer was hit by debris from Petarius’ shots.
Bauer left the residence and went to the woman who was on the sidewalk, she said. Corrigan returned fire at Petarius’ last known location while Bauer pulled the woman to safety.
Petarius, a former Tripoli Shrine clown, will return to court on Dec. 20 for his arraignment. He could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of 10 charges filed against him, including the attempted homicide of Bauer.