ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A double amputee who shot a Walmart manager after he was asked to put his service dog on a leash has been sentenced to nine years in prison.
Daniel Pirtle declined to speak at Friday’s sentencing, The Anchorage Daily News reported. Back in November, he pleaded guilty to first-degree assault after prosecutors dropped an attempted murder charge.
Pirtle, 46, was on a motorized shopping cart and legally armed with a .45-caliber pistol when he shot assistant manager Jason Mahi in the stomach. The March 2013 incident started when a customer complained to managers about Pirtle’s unleashed dog.
Mahi spent three months in a hospital and accumulated more than $1 million in medical bills. The 34-year-old suffered injuries to his hip, intestines, kidney and bladder, and he now walks with a cane.
“It’s been a rough road,” he told the court.
Pirtle was angry because Mahi asked him to put his 5-month-old dog, Wookie, on a leash or leave the store that was full of Saturday shoppers.
Testifying at the sentencing hearing, Michael Harrison said he was working behind the store’s gun counter when Pirtle told him he was probably getting kicked out because of the dog.
“I said we sold leashes in the store,” Harrison said. “He said all the kids in the store needed to be on … leashes.”
Pamela Nunooruk, another employee, said she was with Mahi when he spoke with Pirtle. It was a polite conversation, she said.
Surveillance footage played in court Friday showed Pirtle firing a single shot that sent Mahi to the floor.
Pirtle motored away “like nothing ever happened,” Harrison said.
Arguing for a seven-year sentence, the lowest in the range included the plea agreement, court-appointed defense lawyer Dan Lowery said his client was delusional at the time of the shooting.
Pirtle had undergone emotional trauma with the loss of both legs to diabetes, Lowery said. He had been on medication for post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression up until two weeks before the shooting, Lowery said.
“That doesn’t mean that’s an excuse to go shoot somebody, but it certainly does give us some insight into why a man might be troubled,” Lowery said.
Judge Michael Spaan told Pirtle he was lucky he didn’t get shot in the chaos he created.
“You had people reaching for shotguns. You had police officers asking for guns,” Spaan said. “This was horrible, but it could have been a lot worse. It was a very crowded store, a very public place.”