Elderly man accused of trying to kill a Waukesha police officer

CREATED Oct 25, 2012 - UPDATED: Oct 25, 2012

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  • Video by wtmj.com


BROOKFIELD- 76-year old Dick Petarius was in court for the first time Thursday after he allegedly fired at police officers during a standoff in Waukesha earlier this week.

Petarius wept in open court, facing the possibility of what amounts to a lifetime prison sentence.  He faces ten criminal counts related to his exchange with his ex-wife and police at her Waukesha home. 

"They had a up-and-down type marriage where there was abuse by this defendant," argues prosecutor Pablo Galaviz.

Petarius was apparently distraught after a bitter end to the couple's 53-year marriage.  Defense attorneys say he violated a protection order just to talk to his ex-wife even though he was armed with a sawed-off shotgun, taken from his son.

"The marriage is what he's upset about," says Petarius' defense attorney, Pete Salza.

Petarius reportedly aimed the gun at police, who opened fire and he shot back.  Thankfully, everyone survived.

The man's ex-wife, recovering from a broken arm, is too distraught to go on camera.  Her attorney says "she's working on recovering physically and emotionally.  The family is concentrating on healing during this difficult time."

Family members checked the damage at the home.  Bullets pelted the refrigerator, microwave, windows, and much of the outside walls, but personal items were spared. 

Though Petarius is accused of trying to kill an officer, his attorneys argue nothing could be further from the truth.

"This man is a veteran.  If he wanted to hit that officer, he would have hit her," says Salza.

Prosecutors also claim Petarius came to his ex-wife's home to commit suicide.  Police arrived before that could happen.  His ex-wife is reportedly staying with family members.