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Man shot by police ID’d

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Kayla Bunge
July 15, 2010
— Walworth County authorities have identified the man shot and killed by police Tuesday after he failed to obey orders to keep his hands away from his gun.

Roman O. Petriw, 47, for the past several weeks had been living at the residence at N3095 Dandelion Road, where town of Geneva police and Walworth County sheriff’s deputies were called about 6:20 a.m. The owner of the residence reported a suicidal man inside the house.


Officers and deputies arrived to find a man inside the house armed with a handgun. They gave the man instructions to drop the gun, but he refused, shot himself two times in the torso and dropped the weapon. They ordered the man to keep his hands up, but he reached for the gun.


Town of Geneva officers Ken Mulhollon and Jason Sweeney and Walworth County sheriff’s Deputy Scott Smith fired their weapons at the man. It is unknown how many shots were fired and how many shots struck the man.


The man was incapacitated, and officers immediately started first aid and CPR. Coroner John Griebel pronounced the man dead at the scene at 8:23 a.m.


Petriw, who originally is from the Chicago area, had been living alone at the residence for the past several weeks with the permission of the homeowner, Undersheriff Kurt Picknell said.


Petriw, an orthodontist, had been engaged, but his fiancee left him about five years ago and he had been unemployed on and off since then, said Lucian Lange, the homeowner and a childhood friend.


“Everything went downhill since then,” he said.


Lange offered up his family vacation home near the north shore of Lake Como as a sort of temporary safe haven, he said. Petriw lived at the house from May to November 2009, moved to Texas to escape the cold of winter, and returned to the house about a month ago, Lange said.


Lange had grown frustrated that his family could not use the cottage to get away from the big city on weekends, he said. He took Petriw to a homeless shelter in the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago on Monday morning, he said.


Petriw was upset with the staff at the shelter, Lange said. He would have to go through an interview and could not be guaranteed a room for six to eight weeks, Lange said.


Lange let him stay at the house one more night, he said. Petriw planned to move back to Chicago and Lange offered to drop him off wherever he wanted to go, he said.


Lange woke up, showered and got ready for work early Tuesday morning, he said. Petriw started getting ready and offered to make coffee and breakfast, Lange said. Lange declined because they didn’t have time, he said.


Petriw started making coffee anyway, and Lange told him to stop wasting time, he said.


“He said, ‘We’ve got a problem here,’ ” Lange said. “And I said, ‘What’s the problem?’ He said, ‘I’m not going,’ and he pulled out two guns.”


Lange left the house and called the police. He told them Petriw was acting strange and might be suicidal.


Petriw was a nice guy, Lange said. Petriw was smart, spoke several languages and loved talking to people, he said.


“He always reminded everyone of Kramer from ‘Seinfeld,’ ” he said. “He liked talking to people. He would talk to people on buses. He would talk to people in stores. He would talk to anybody near him.”


Petriw leaves behind a brother and sister, Lange said. His mother died when he was a child and his father died a few years ago, he said. The family was close, he said.


The officers and deputy who fired their weapons are on administrative duty pending review of the incident.


The Waukesha County Medical Examiner’s Office is conducting an autopsy today and Walworth County authorities expect to release more information after they receive those results, Picknell said.


The Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation into the officer-involved shooting.



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