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Suspect in stolen ‘snack cake’ killing served time for killing cashier during robbery

KIFI

By James Stratton and Derrick Rose

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    MILWAUKEE (WISN) — The man who witnesses said shot a man dead over stolen snacks from a gas station, himself served time in the Wisconsin prison system for killing a cashier while trying to rob a store 34 years ago, court records show.

William Pinkin, whom Department of Corrections records reveal was convicted of intentional homicide in 1989, was working in a security guard capacity at the Clark gas station near Teutonia Ave. and Roosevelt Dr. Wednesday morning, according to the family of Isaiah Allen.

Those relatives said witnesses told them Pinkin shot Allen in the back of the head because he suspected Allen of shoplifting snack cakes.

Allen’s mother, Natalie Easter, said her son went to the store with friends, who told her they saw Allen get shot after the theft.

“He’s got two beautiful kids, 9 and 3, and now they gotta grow up without their daddy,” Easter said. “Over a box of 25-cent cakes. I still can’t wrap my head around that.”

On Friday, two days after the homicide, Pinkin turned himself in to police, 12 News confirmed with a police spokesperson. By Sunday, August 20, Milwaukee County prosecutors charged Pinkin with first degree intentional homicide in Allen’s death.

According to the criminal complaint, surveillance video shows Pinkin seated in a chair near the back of the store when Allen comes in the door and grabs a box of Little Debbie snack cakes from a shelf.

The complaint said when Allen turned around and walked out the door with the box, Pinkin pulled out a gun.

“He rushes towards and follows [Allen] out the door, gets within a little more than arm’s length behind him, holds up the gun, and shoots towards the back of [Allen’s] head. [Allen] immediately falls and never moves again. The shooter stands over [Allen] for a moment, then goes back into the store,” Assistant District Attorney Michael Lonski wrote in the complaint.

The complaint said Pinkin stayed at the scene after police arrived, smoked a cigarette and denied any knowledge of the shooting. According to the complaint, when police spoke to Pinkin, they had not yet seen the surveillance video. By the time they did, Pinkin had left the scene.

According to the complaint, investigators compared the surveillance video from Allen’s death to body camera video from officers who responded to the gas station on June 22 for a robbery complaint. In the body camera video, officers spoke to Pinkin. The complaint said a booking photo of Pinkin, the man in the body camera video and surveillance video during Allen’s death were identical.

Additionally, the gas station’s owner identified Pinkin as “Junior” and said he lived in the neighborhood and worked at the store.

The owner, who was not present at the shooting, recognized the man in the booking photo as “Junior,” a man from the neighborhood who did work for the store.

SUSPECT’S PREVIOUS HOMICIDE CONVICTION

According to Milwaukee County Court records, when he was 22, Pinkin shot a store cashier in the face with a sawed-off shotgun while robbing a store.

“I shot the tall dark dude and his head went back,” an accomplice told detectives Pinkin said after the deadly shooting, according to a 1989 criminal complaint. The document said another accomplice in the deadly robbery told detectives the group of people who gathered to commit the robbery was upset Pinkin shot the cashier. The document said Pinkin responded by laughing.

Wisconsin prison records show Pinkin was released from custody on March 5, 2023.

“[He] was released on his mandatory release date, which means he served the maximum 2/3 of his sentence as required by [Wisconsin law]” a Department of Corrections spokesperson said in an email.

By law, the felony conviction prevented Pinkin from legally possessing a gun.

According to witnesses and regular customers at the Clark gas station, Pinkin was known for having issues with customers.

“He has had multiple situations over here with everybody in the neighborhood with him being extremely aggressive,” said Monashay Howard, who lives near the gas station and was a regular.

A clerk at the gas station on August 15 denied Pinkin was an employee, but regular customers said he worked security there.

The owner of the business has not responded to requests for comment.

Since Wednesday’s shooting, Allen’s family and neighbors in the community returned to the gas station to prevent it from reopening. On Wednesday, several people blocked the gas pumps with their vehicles to prevent anyone from buying gas.

“That was it. I don’t get another chance with my son being here. They don’t get a chance of making one more dollar in this store,” Easter said.

Milwaukee Common Council Alderwoman Andrea Pratt, whose district covers the gas station, said she, too, wanted the business to remain closed while an investigation continues. In an emailed statement, Pratt said she planned to introduce legislation regulating the use of security guards, making it a requirement they be licensed and bonded.

“There is nothing inside of a store worth someone’s life,” Pratt said, “The tragedy that occurred yesterday at a gas station near Teutonia and Roosevelt is unacceptable.”

Currently, Wisconsin does issue licenses to private security guards, however, state law prevents individuals with felonies on their criminal records from obtaining a license or carrying a gun.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story did not identify Pinkin by name because he had not been formally charged. This story was since updated to include Pinkin’s identity and details from the new criminal complaint.

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