Pa. gun shop shooting caught on video
PITTSBURGH – The fatal shooting of a Western Pennsylvania gun shop owner in his business was captured on surveillance video and occurred after the suspect extorted more than $130,000 from the victim by pretending to be an undercover police officer, according to a criminal complaint.
Jack Edmundson Jr., 43, is charged with criminal homicide, attempted arson and aggravated assault in the shooting of 62-year-old Frank Petro Tuesday inside Petro’s business, Frank’s Gun & Taxidermy Shop. Edmundson is from Saltsburg, a tiny borough next to Conemaugh Township, where Petro’s shop was located, about 35 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
Details of the shooting have been slow to emerge because of the New Year’s holiday, though Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty planned a news conference Thursday afternoon. A criminal complaint filed by state police spelled out some details.
According to the complaint, in the weeks leading up to the shooting, Edmundson had told Petro he was an undercover officer investigating an illegal lottery in which Petro allegedly won money. Petro’s brother, William, told police that his brother initially gave Edmundson between $44,000 and $47,000 in lottery winnings after Edmundson told the Petros “he could make the case go away” and an additional $87,000 in recent weeks.
William Petro did not immediately return messages left at two phone numbers listed in his name Thursday.
The brothers became suspicious when they learned Edmundson was arrested for impersonating an officer after he allegedly chased and detained two juveniles who threw corn cobs at his car in November, police said. Frank Petro had since contacted an attorney about getting back the money he had given Edmundson, his brother told police.
Surveillance video shows Edmundson grabbing a pistol from a display case at Petro’s shop and shooting him twice on Tuesday afternoon, according to the criminal complaint. The video also shows Edmundson pouring some kind of black powder around the shop and spraying a fuel, with which police believe Edmundson intended to set fire to the business, the complaint said.
Instead, Petro – who survived the initial shooting – got up and scuffled with Edmundson and shot him in the thigh before Edmundson shot Petro at least one more time in the face, police allege, citing the video.
Edmundson is a paramedic and well-known to volunteer firefighters in the Saltsburg area, while Petro was well-known and liked in the rural community where hunting is a way of life.
Edmundson worked as a detective for the Lancaster County drug task force in eastern Pennsylvania, a job he lost when he was convicted of stealing rare coins seized from a suspected drug dealer during a 1995 raid. He was sentenced to one to two years in prison, a term that was knocked down to three to six months in county jail, before being paroled in 2001, Lancaster County detectives said.
Online court records don’t list an attorney for Edmundson, who was believed to still be hospitalized for his gunshot wound.