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Moon Lake shooting was over theft, officials say

Witnesses say one man accused two others of stealing a pressure washer, then got a gun.

By JAMAL THALJI
Published February 22, 2007


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MOON LAKE - Edward Neil Clark was killed, authorities say, over a pressure washer.

That is the dispute at the heart of the Feb. 15 shooting that left Clark dead and Joseph Anthony Crawley accused of murder, according to a Pasco County Sheriff's Office search warrant.

"If you are going to shoot me," a witness said he heard Clark tell Crawley, "shoot me."

Then, a single gunshot.

The warrant details the accounts of two witnesses to the shooting at Crawley's 10350 Lake Drive home.

Thomas Piggford and Dianne Maleski's stories differ, but agree on this point: Crawley became angry with two men during a gathering at his home.

Piggford said he was one of the men Crawley accused of stealing the washer. The other was Clark, whom authorities say was staying with Crawley because of financial problems.

Maleski, a neighbor, said an angry Crawley grabbed a handgun, walked to the front door and fired it at vehicles outside.

Crawley then came back inside and start fighting with Piggford. So Maleski went home.

Piggford doesn't mention brawling in his account. He said he was in the bathroom when he heard gunshots. He got out and saw Crawley brandishing a gun. Crawley pointed it at Piggford, then at Clark's head. Piggford told detectives he then hid in a corner. He didn't see what happened next.

Piggford said he heard Clark's last words, then the gunshot. When Piggford looked, he saw Clark lying in blood.

Maleski said she heard the gunshot. Then she saw Crawley walk outside.

It was an accident, Crawley told her. He didn't mean to shoot Clark.

Crawley told her he was "going to go kill himself," the warrant said, then drove off.

As many as seven people were in the house during the shooting, the Sheriff's Office says, but only one unidentified witness was there when deputies arrived.

Authorities say Clark, 41, was found kneeling on the living room floor, bent over, in a pool of blood at 1:30 a.m. The Medical Examiner's Office said he was shot in the head.

A .357 Magnum revolver was found inside the home, according to the warrant. The Sheriff's Office has not identified the weapon used in the slaying. Nor would authorities say if alcohol was a factor in the shooting.

The manhunt for Crawley, 41, ended at 3:30 a.m. Sunday in Hudson. He has pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder.

Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or 727 869-6236.

[Last modified February 22, 2007, 02:00:23]


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