Pinellas deputies shoot, kill armed man who broke into ex-wife's Palm Harbor house

Law enforcement officials investigate the scene at Alderman Road where three Pinellas sheriff’s deputies fatally shot a man.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Law enforcement officials investigate the scene at Alderman Road where three Pinellas sheriff’s deputies fatally shot a man.

PALM HARBOR — A 73-year-old man upset about the financial stipulations in his recent divorce was fatally shot by deputies Tuesday morning after he barged into his ex-wife's home with a gun, authorities said.

Edward Warren DiGrandi of Powell, Ohio, was shot multiple times after he pointed his handgun at deputies, who had pulled him over not far from his ex-wife's home at 2966 Sumner Way in Palm Harbor.

Just before 7 a.m., 67-year-old Mary Susan Gunther Marino "heard the dog barking and saw a figure in the window" outside her pink stucco home in the Crossings at Lake Tarpon subdivision.

When Marino opened the door to see who was there, DiGrandi pushed past her, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Marino knocked the gun from DiGrandi's hand, then ran to a neighbor's home and called 911, the Sheriff's Office said. Marino, who goes by Sue or Susan, was not hurt.

DiGrandi knocked on the neighbor's door where Marino had taken refuge, but left when no one answered, deputies said.

Marino's daughter, Carrie Schranz, 43, of Clearwater, said the family is doing as well as they can given the day's circumstances. Schranz declined to comment further, and Marino could not be immediately reached.

Authorities soon found DiGrandi driving a gold 2011 Toyota Camry near Tampa Road. They stopped him on Alderman Road about 8 a.m. Deputies said he may have been headed to Schranz's house.

DiGrandi got out of the car with his gun pointed at his chest, deputies said. It appeared he was going to shoot himself, they said.

"As he stood there next to the vehicle, the deputies shouted commands for him to drop the gun," Chief Deputy Bob Gualtieri said. "He turned the gun and pointed it directly at the deputy, who was no more than 10 feet away from him."

Three responding sheriff's deputies — Jeff Crandall, 53, Robert Wojciechowski, 45, and Kris Fratus, 42 — opened fire on DiGrandi. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

His weapon, a .38-caliber gun, was recovered at the scene.

No deputies were injured.

All three deputies are veteran officers. They were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation, which is standard protocol when a deputy is involved in a shooting.

The Sheriff's Office declined to say how many times DiGrandi was shot, but said an autopsy would be performed by the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office.

After the shooting, Alderman was closed for several hours in both directions from Belcher Road to U.S. 19 as deputies investigated, but was reopened about 1 p.m.

It appears DiGrandi drove more than a thousand miles for the confrontation. The Toyota had Ohio plates, and DiGrandi had told his adult son in Ohio that he planned to come to Pinellas to discuss money issues and his recent divorce from Marino.

The former couple, who were married in Clearwater in September 1998, finalized their divorce about 21/2 weeks ago after nearly a year of contention, according to Pinellas court records.

In divorce filings, Marino said DiGrandi had cleaned her out when they separated in June 2010. She said he had cashed in two certificates of deposit totalling about $53,000, had sold their boat worth about $5,000 and pocketed the proceeds and had transferred nearly $13,000 of debt onto a credit card in her name before he left the state to join his ex-wife in Ohio.

In the final divorce decree, a judge said a separate order would be entered to award Marino about $41,000 in money owed to her. The judge also ordered DiGrandi to pay Marino $750 a month in alimony for seven years, to be garnished from his Social Security checks, because he had taken "what amounts to all of the cash assets acquired" during the marriage and increased Marino's living expenses by leaving her with the credit card debt.

DiGrandi's first alimony payment was due on Friday.

DiGrandi, who was working as a security guard in Ohio, did not attend the final divorce hearing, according to the document.

Marino is a co-owner of PMS Management Services in Palm Harbor, according to court filings.

On June 8, Marino used her Facebook page to announce to the world that the divorce was finalized. She wrote: "It's official ... D-I-V-O-R-C-E-D !!! June 8, 2011 Please erase the name DiGrandi from your memory, your address books and any other place you may have associated me."

Her Facebook page lists her as a 1961 graduate of Boca Ciega High School in St. Petersburg.

Marino made local news last June after a detective from Malden, Mass., went to great lengths to track her down as he was doing research about her father. Her father, Lt. Walter J. Gunther Jr., was a U.S. Army paratrooper who was killed on D-day — June 6, 1944 — when Marino was a baby.

The incident Tuesday was the second Pinellas deputy-involved shooting in a week. On June 21, deputies shot and wounded a 28-year-old man accused of stalking an ex-girlfriend after he tried to wrest away a deputy's gun at a drugstore in Lealman.

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Marissa Lang can be reached at mlang@sptimes.com (727) 893-8871.

Witnesses sought

Detectives said they would like to speak to several people they believe witnessed the shooting on Alderman. They are looking to speak with the driver and/or passengers of a red pickup truck that was at Grove Park Road and Alderman Road; a white pickup truck that was westbound on Alderman; a dark-colored crossover sport utility vehicle that was westbound on Alderman; and a white male on a bike who was westbound on Alderman. They ask that any witnesses call Pinellas County sheriff's Detective Todd Green at (727) 582-6200.

Pinellas deputies shoot, kill armed man who broke into ex-wife's Palm Harbor house 06/28/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 12:23am]

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