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Family of Jason Mahi and Off-Duty Anchorage Police Sgt. Recall Walmart Shooting

March 18, 2013|By Garrett Turner | Channel 2 News

On Saturday afternoon, the family of Midtown Walmart manager Jason Mahi, 33, heard the startling news that he had been shot at work.

Anchorage police alleged that double amputee Daniel Pirtle, 45, shot Mahi inside the store after a dispute over an unleashed service dog.

Alex Asino, Mahi’s brother-in-law, was at his auntie’s restaurant in South Anchorage doing prep work when he heard about the shooting.

“My auntie came into the kitchen, telling me and my uncle that Bulla, [a Hawaiian nickname] which is Jason Mahi, got shot," Asino said. "I was so really shocked, that he got shot.”

Mahi underwent surgery after being shot in the abdomen. On Monday, he was listed in critical condition at Providence Hospital.

Asino and Mahi’s family members said they were hanging on with Jason struggling to recover from the gunshot wound.

Emergency responders rushed to the scene Saturday afternoon, however an off-duty Anchorage Police Department officer, who happened to be shopping at the store, reached Mahi first.

"He's calm, he doesn't seem to be any great agony," APD Sgt. Mike Couturier said. "He's conscious, he's breathing, he's breathing regular and I got a gunman getting away."

Sgt. Couturier, a veteran with APD, explained that until the area was secure and the shooter was found, then EMTs could help the victim.

"I'm letting people know as I'm trotting down the aisle that I'm an off duty APD," Sgt. Couturier said. "I'm asking 'Where did he go? Where did he go?' [People] were all very involved in the situation so they're pointing me to where the suspect has gone."

Sgt. Couturier said he typically carries a gun, but it was his off-duty day and it was Murphy’s Law that made sure he didn’t have his weapon.

“That’s the day, one of very few that I didn’t have a weapon on me,” Sgt. Couturier said. “I also know that if I’m not armed, I ought to be a good witness, not a great officer, a good witness because that’s how officers survive."

Walmart workers and shoppers directed Couturier outside towards the west entrance of the store. When Couturier went outside, he saw Pirtle slowly moving on his motorized wheelchair and then a police car pulled in. Pirtle was arrested and charged with first degree assault and fourth degree misconduct involving weapons.

“I’m not special by any means,” Sgt Couturier said. “It just demonstrates one more time, the type of responsibility we take on.”

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