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January 2, 2014

Fatal gun store shooting captured on video, authorities say

— The fatal shooting of a gun shop owner in his Indiana County business was captured on surveillance video and occurred after the assailant extorted more than $130,000 from him by pretending to be an undercover police officer, ac­cording to a criminal complaint.

Jack Edmundson Jr. is charged with criminal homicide, attempted arson and aggravated assault in the shooting of 62-year-old Frank Petro on Tuesday inside Frank’s Gun & Taxidermy Shop. Edmundson is from Saltsburg, a tiny borough just outside Conemaugh Township, where Petro’s shop is located.

Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said at a press conference Thursday afternoon that the death penalty is “clearly on the table,” but the investigation is ongoing.

According to the criminal 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 had won money. Petro initially gave Edmundson between $44,000 and $47,000 in lottery winnings after Edmundson told Petro and his brother he could “make the case go away” and an additional $87,000 in recent weeks, the brother, William Petro, told police.

William Petro declined to comment on Thursday.

The brothers became suspicious when they learned that  Edmund­son had been arrested for impersonating an officer after he 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 black powder around the shop and spraying a fuel, with which police believe Edmund­son intended to set fire to the business, the complaint says.

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.

Online court records don’t list an attorney for Edmundson.

Dougherty’s office said Ed­mund­son was hospitalized and would be arraigned when he’s medically stable.

Edmundson is a paramedic and well known to volunteer firefighters in the Saltsburg area. 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 during a 1995 drug 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.

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