Family & friends of murder victims hold fundraiser
Paul & AJ Petras murdered last month
LA CROSSE, Wis. — For Paul Petras and his 19-year-old son AJ, it was their favorite place to order some bratwursts, a double order of french fries and take in a Green Bay Packers game.
That’s why family and friends of the two recent murder victims gathered Sunday at Glory Days, 324 4th St. S., for a special fundraiser in their memory.
Paul and AJ were shot to death last month inside the family’s downtown photography store, May’s Photo.
The fundraiser was originally organized to help fund a reward to help find their killer.
On Wednesday, however, police say they arrested the man who is responsible for their deaths. 39-year-old Jeffrey Lepsch was arrested at his home in Dakota, Minnesota.
Police say they found 14 items stolen from May’s Photo store inside his home. Investigators were able to track down Lepsch and his family’s vehicle through downtown surveillance video.16984980
Lepsch is being held in the Winona County Jail on a $10 million bond. He is scheduled to be back in court this Thursday.
On Sunday, Paul’s wife and daughter attended the fundraiser. Now that the suspected killer has been caught, the money raised will instead be used to likely fund a scholarship.
Friends of the family say they are relieved someone is in custody but that does not take the sting out of what happened.
“I will never get over it but I can’t imagine the horror for the Petras family,” said Mark Schneider, the owner of Glory Days. Schneider knew Paul Petras dating back to high school.
“He didn’t have any enemy in the world (and) probably didn’t even know this person. I don’t know why you’d have to shoot them over cameras,” said Schneider.
Those in attendance could purchase buttons with Paul and AJ’s pictures on them. In fact, they were donated anonymously.
Organizers say the community is doing a great job of supporting the Petras family.
“I think everyone’s just in shock about what happened and we all realize it could happen to anyone. So what happened here has just brought the community together,” said Myra Withey.