ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Police arrested the wrong person in the 2017 shooting deaths of three men at a coin and precious metals shop in Anchorage, a defense attorney said at the murder trial of the suspect, who provided security at the store.
Anthony Pisano, 45, is charged in the deaths of Steven Cook, 31, an owner of The Bullion Brothers, and building tenants Kenneth Hartman, 48, and Daniel McCreadie, 31.
During opening statements Wednesday, defense attorney Kevin Fitzgerald said co-owner Michael Dupree killed Cook, the Anchorage Daily News reported. When Hartman and McCreadie responded to the shots, Fitzgerald said, Pisano shot them in self-defense.
Prosecutor Brittany Dunlop said only Pisano was responsible for killing the three men on Sept. 12, 2017, and his motive was robbery.
“Ladies and gentlemen, there was no second shooter and this wasn’t self-defense,” she told the jury.
Cook and Dupree opened the store in 2015. Dunlop described it as “the Cheers of gold bullion shops” where friends and customers would stay for hours to “shoot the breeze.”
Dupree and Cook met Pisano through a mutual friend and police officer. Pisano was a former paratrooper stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. After nearly two decades in the Army, he had retired as a sergeant and was hired to provide security for the store.
Pisano desperately needed money, Dunlop said, noting that the day before the shooting, security footage showed him checking how much cash was inside the store. The prosecutor displayed photos from the day of the killings showing Pisano entering the store, turning off security cameras and carrying in a black box containing flares and two bottles filled with gasoline.
Witnesses reported shots just before 10 a.m. Dupree called 911 and said Pisano had shot Cook in an office. Dupree said he had wrestled a handgun away from Pisano and ran out of the store.
Investigators said Pisano then shot McCreadie, who was found in an open doorway, and Hartman, who found at the top of a stairwell.
Fitzgerald said Dupree shot Cook after their relationship had become strained because Dupree had grown disenchanted with the gold shop. Cook had asked Pisano to turn off the security camera because the two owners were secretive about their business, Fitzgerald said.
The lawyer said Pisano tripped and fell after Cook was shot. His gun fell from his holster and Dupree grabbed it before leaving the shop, Fitzgerald said.
Pisano used Cook’s gun to defend himself when McCreadie appeared and the two held each other at gunpoint, Fitzgerald said, Hartman appeared at the top of the stairs. Fitzgerald said, and Pisano believed he was also armed. Pisano shot both in self-defense, the lawyer said.