July 31, 2014

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Teen made gun threat

Daniel Petric had been in trouble before being accused of killing his mother and shooting his father.

Daniel Petric

Four years ago, police were called to McCormick Middle School in Wellington after Daniel was overheard threatening to bring a gun to school.

Daniel — a seventh-grader at the time — had been in the district for only two months after having moved to the area with his family from Columbus so his father, the Rev. Mark Petric, 45, could become the pastor at New Life Assembly of God on West Street.

Daniel told police he was joking around — that he was talking to another student about a play he was in at his father’s church, specifically a scene where kids used unloaded guns to rob a church and its minister.

A student asked him if he brought a gun to school, the report said. Daniel said yes and “started acting depressed to get attention,” the report said.

Daniel’s mother, Susan Petric, was called to the school to take her son home about 10 a.m. that day, and no charges were filed. The responding officer wrote in the report that he didn’t feel Daniel meant any harm but was only trying to get attention from the students since he was new to the school.

A record of the incident does not exist in Daniel’s personnel file because most disciplinary records are destroyed when students reach high school, Wellington Schools Superintendent Victor Cardenzana said.

Cardenzana, who was not superintendent in 2003, asked McCormick Middle School Principal Tim Durham about the incident, but Durham could not remember it. The superintendent at the time, Howard Dulmage, said he only vaguely remembered the incident, but he did not know if it resulted in any punishment.

“He was one of those kids I just didn’t remember,” said Dulmage, who is now superintendent for Midview Schools.

Besides the seventh-grade incident, Daniel was apparently good at flying under the radar in school.

Cardenzana described him as an average kid who received average grades. He didn’t play sports but had a lot of friends, Cardenzana said. Daniel was also considered a goofball who made other classmates laugh.

He was very involved at his dad’s church, playing drums in the youth groups and participating in Bible quiz competitions between neighboring churches where teens quote scripture or answer questions about Bible stories.

“He is a very bright young man,” said Kathie Stiles, a congregant.

Daniel has been charged with murder and attempted murder for Saturday’s shooting, and he was being held Tuesday in the county Juvenile Detention Home. County prosecutors likely will attempt to try him as an adult, but they will not be able to seek the death penalty because of his age.

During his arrest, he told a Wellington police officer that his dad shot his mom before turning the gun on himself. But sheriff’s Capt. Rich Resendez said physical evidence at the scene, as well as Daniel’s confession during a police interview, led police to believe the murder-suicide story was a lie.

Sue Petric was shot three times, including one bullet that went through both forearms when she apparently threw her arms up to protect herself, said county coroner Paul Matus.

Mark Petric had improved to serious condition Tuesday night at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.

The couple was found Saturday night inside their Peck-Wadsworth Road home by their daughter and son-in-law, Heidi and Andy Archer, who had planned to watch the Indians playoff game with her parents. Instead, they were met by Daniel, who tried to block the door, they told police.

After forcing their way inside, they found Sue Petric dead and Mark Petric conscious but bleeding profusely, according to what Heidi Archer told dispatchers during a 911 call. A hysterical Heidi Archer told dispatchers she didn’t know what happened and that her brother took the family minivan and drove off after her husband took a gun from him, according to a tape of the call.

Police said that after Daniel left the house, and before he was arrested, called Andy Archer’s brother, 18-year-old Steven Archer, whose Litchfield home Daniel may have been headed for. The two were friends, and police say Daniel lied about the shootings to Steven during the call.

Kathleen Heide, professor of criminology at University of South Florida who wrote a book on children who kill their parents, said the crime is very rare but is even more unique when a teenager is involved. She said about 100 such crimes occur each year, but the majority are committed by adult children.

She said the crime typically has one of three reasons: A severely abused teen sees killing his or her parents as the only way out; a selfish teen doesn’t get his or her way and wants to get a parent out of the picture; or the child suffers from mental illness.

Heide added that there are typically signs that something like this will occur, especially inside a family dynamic.

“For a young individual to do something like that is indicative that something in that family is very wrong,” Heide said.

Resendez said there was no evidence that Daniel was physically abused but that Daniel did say he and his parents argued frequently in the weeks leading up to the shooting. 

Contact Adam Wright at 653-6257 or awright@chroniclet.com.