A Saltsburg man accused in the New Year’s Eve slaying of an Indiana County gun shop owner may have shot himself in the thigh as part of a bizarre plan to cover up a $130,000 extortion, prosecutors said Thursday.
Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said he may seek the death penalty against Jack O. Edmundson Jr., 43, who is recuperating from the gunshot wound in UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh under a 24-hour police guard.
Edmundson, a former police officer, is charged with shooting Frank S. Petro, 62, multiple times in Petro’s Tunnelton shop, Frank’s Gun & Taxidermy, about 1:30 p.m., state police said.
Authorities said the video showed 43-year-old Jack Edmundson Jr. shooting 62-year-old Frank Petro four times inside the shop using Petro’s gun. Edmundson was ordered to stand trial after a preliminary hearing Friday on charges including homicide, attempted arson and aggravated assault.
In an affidavit of probable cause, Trooper Robert Valyo said Edmundson tried to extort Petro of more than $120,000 in suspected illegal lottery winnings in October. Police wrote Edmundson was posing as an undercover detective investigating the illegal lottery ring and told Petro if he gave him the winnings, he wouldn’t criminally charge him.
“The tickets, from what we understand, appear to be legitimate tickets for different organizations. To the unwitting purchaser of the ticket, you have no reason to believe it’s not a valid ticket,” Dougherty said in January.
Officials confirm Edmundson was a detective in the Lancaster County area in the 1990s but was fired for stealing from evidence. Several officials confirm that he returned to the Indiana County area, where he one time worked as a deputy coroner and an officer for the Saltsburg Volunteer Fire Department. Officials also said he worked for various emergency medical services departments in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.