By Yereth Rosen
ANCHORAGE, Alaska, March 19 A wheelchair-bound
double amputee has been charged with shooting and critically
wounding an Alaska Walmart manager over a disagreement about a
Daniel Pirtle, 45, was caught while attempting to flee the
Anchorage store on his motorized wheelchair, according to police
reports about the Saturday incident.
He was charged with first-degree assault and weapons
misconduct, and on Tuesday declined a public defender, telling
the judge that he preferred to represent himself. "I know how to
do that," he said at the pre-indictment hearing.
The shooting left Jason Mahi, 33, in critical condition at a
local hospital, a family member said.
The dispute was over a service dog used by Pirtle, according
to police reports. Mahi was shot in the abdomen after he asked
Pirtle to leash the dog. An off-duty police officer shopping at
the store detained the wheelchair-riding Pirtle, according to
Pirtle had two pistols with him at the store, and later
admitted to detectives that he had shot Mahi, according to an
information report filed by the local district attorney.
Mahi's brother, Brandon Mahi, said the victim remained
unconscious on Tuesday. "We're just praying every day," Brandon
Mahi said after Pirtle's brief court appearance.
He said the family is upset that Walmart continued to do
business after the shooting. "They just kept running like
nothing even happened," he said.
Dianna Gee, a spokeswoman at Walmart's headquarters in
Bentonville, Arkansas, said that, "considering the
circumstances," store employees "did an amazing job at handling
a very difficult situation."
"Their focus was on tending to the medical-emergency needs,
getting help to the scene and making sure there was no immediate
threat to the customers," Gee told Reuters, adding that the
company has been providing support to Mahi's family since the
Although police secured the shooting scene on Saturday, the
store did not close after the incident, said Anita Shell, a
spokeswoman for the Anchorage Police Department.
If Mahi dies, murder charges will be added, said Anita
Shell, a spokeswoman for the Anchorage Police Department.