Petersburg man fatally shoots former boss, self

Police chief says killing is only the third in town in more than 50 years

Posted: Thursday, September 04, 2008

PETERSBURG - A 44-year-old man walked up to his former boss and fatally shot her Friday before killing himself, police said.

Petersburg police identified the gunman as Peter Baron and his victim as Helen Shear, 40, the manager of a storage business in Petersburg, a town of about 3,100.

The motive for the Friday morning shootings was unclear. Witnesses said Baron walked up to Shear in the driveway of the business and aimed a 12-gauge shotgun at her, apparently without warning.

After shooting Shear, he put the shotgun to his head and pulled the trigger, witnesses said.

Police said Shear used to own the business, B & G Heated Mini Storage, with her ex-husband, Guy Bartlett. The couple had gone out of state and left Baron in charge, but when they returned this spring, they ended his employment.

Police Chief Dale Stone said the killing is only the third in Petersburg, 120 miles south of Juneau, in more than 50 years.

Stone said police have ruled out robbery or theft as a motive, and there did not appear to be any substantial relationship between Shear and Baron.

Autopsy results were not yet available, but Stone said alcohol or drugs did not appear to have been factors.

Baron, who had only lived in Petersburg for a few years, was unmarried and had a reputation as a quiet worker who kept to himself, Stone said. He did not have a criminal record in Alaska.

"This is a pretty peaceful community, and it's a real shock," Stone said. "The victim was well-liked in the community and a hard worker."

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