Investigation of double homicide at La Crosse camera shop continues

LA CROSSE, Wis. – Local and state law enforcement agencies are still investigating the deaths of May’s Photo owner Paul Petras, 56, and his son, A.J., 19, who were gunned-down inside the camera store at 425 Main Street, Saturday afternoon, September 15. Their bodies were discovered by Paul Petras’ wife, Sherri, shortly after 5 p.m. that afternoon. Police have not announced any suspects, arrests or motive in the shootings.

The La Crosse Tribune reported that authorities suspect the shootings happened between the store’s closing time, 2 p.m., and 5 p.m. Police interviewed participants in a photography class that gathered shortly before closing time, and a regular customer noticed a suspicious person at the store counter late that afternoon. Another Tribune story quoted a family friend saying that the business had been broken into several times, and that several surveillance cameras had been installed.

Paul Petras was planning to one day give the family business to A.J., according to the Tribune. Both shared a passion for photography. More than 500 people attended a memorial service for the father and son.

In the midst of the investigation, the La Crosse Police Department prepares to swear in its new chief this Thursday, the Tribune also reports. Ron Tischer, formerly a captain in Waukesha, Wis., has been receiving daily updates on the progress of the investigation. The Tribune has noted that other local homicides have taken weeks or months to solve.

The Tribune published a reader’s letter to the editor, criticizing the publication of an unspecified photograph from the crime scene. Several commenters on the article have defended the use of photography in reporting the news event. One commenter suspected the reader, Lisa Armstrong of Onalaska, was referring to a photograph taken from a distance by reporter Mike Tighe.

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