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Mental evaluation ordered for man accused of shooting at Waukesha police

Nov. 01, 2012
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By Don Behm of the Journal Sentinel

Nov. 01, 2012 0

Waukesha - A 76-year-old Sussex man charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide and other crimes after shooting at a police officer responding to a domestic violence complaint on Oct. 23 will be given an evaluation to determine if he is mentally competent to stand trial on the charges, Waukesha County Court Commissioner Thomas Pieper ruled Thursday.

Pieper ordered the mental health evaluation in response to a request from the defense attorney for Richard A. Petarius.

Petarius is being held in the Waukesha County Jail. On Oct. 25, Pieper set bail at $500,000.

Petarius carried a 12-gauge shotgun when he forced his way into the Waukesha residence of his ex-wife, Phyllis, on Oct. 23, according to a criminal complaint.

He used a cell phone to contact their son, Rick, of Watertown, shortly after entering the residence, the complaint says. Phyllis Petarius told officers that she overheard him tell their son that he intended to commit suicide that day.

Richard Petarius was inside the residence at Wyndwood Condominiums in the 1800 block of E. Racine Ave. when two police officers arrived around 4:15 p.m. As one officer interviewed her at the entrance to the residence, Richard Petarius walked into the adjoining room holding the shotgun and pointed it at the officer, the complaint says.

The officer at the door started shooting at Petarius while pulling his ex-wife outside to safety. Petarius fired two shots at the officer.

He surrendered to police at 5:16 p.m.

In addition to the attempted murder charge, Petarius faces eight other felonies, including two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety with a dangerous weapon as well as false imprisonment with a dangerous weapon. He also is charged with one misdemeanor violation of a 2010 domestic abuse restraining order.

Pieper ruled Thursday there was probable cause linking Petarius to the crimes. A hearing is scheduled Nov. 16.

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About Don Behm

Don Behm reports on Milwaukee County government, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, the environment and communities in southeastern Wisconsin. He has won reporting awards for investigations of Great Lakes water pollution, Milwaukee's cryptosporidiosis outbreak, and the deaths of three sewer construction workers in a Menomonee Valley methane explosion.

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