Police seek trio for beating, robbery of 76-year-old man

Zaz Hollander

Anchorage attorney Joe Palmier didn't think twice when he saw three young men walking past his home on Edinburgh Drive on Friday.

What happened next left the 76-year-old Anchorage trial lawyer with five staples in his head, a mangled face and a bristle of stitches in his lips.

One of the young men said something but Palmier's leaf blower drowned out the words. The trio kept going. Palmier returned to his quick afternoon chore, still wearing his leather jacket and work clothes.

The next thing Palmier knew, the three young men stood in the driveway, which was strange. People don't just walk up the Palmier driveway leading to the Tudor-style home 25 or 30 feet above the road.

They asked him to contribute to a West High School fundraiser.

Palmier said no. He and his wife give to United Way every year.

"They turned to go back down the driveway and I turned in the opposite direction," Palmier said by phone Monday afternoon, home from the hospital and recovering from his injuries. "That's the last thing I remember. I woke up in a pool of blood."

Police are still looking for the three men who attacked Palmier and took his wallet, keys and an eight-diamond pinkie ring.

They were described as "three young light-skinned black males" in a police press release from police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro on Monday. Palmier said one of the three was taller than the others, at least 6 feet. He estimated their ages at anywhere from 17 or 18 to 25 or 26.

Palmier struggled back to consciousness on Friday trying to figure out where all the blood was coming from, he said. His hat was full of it. He couldn't move. His head hurt something awful.

"I put my hand back there and it literally felt like a cantaloupe that had been split open," he said. "I thought, have I been shot?"

Palmier's wife heard his screams for help. She made an urgent call to 911 just after 5:30 p.m., Castro said.

Palmier got in the ambulance and reached for his wallet to show ID and realized it was gone. Pain in his hand made him look down to see the ring was missing too.

A story materialized: One or more of the guys in the driveway bashed Palmier on the back of the head with something. He lost consciousness before he hit the ground face first. His upper and lower teeth sliced through his lips.

At the hospital, Palmier was diagnosed with a concussion. His skull didn't fracture.

People in the Jewel Lake neighborhood where the attack occurred say a new park down the road triggered concerns about parking and security.

The park, the Campbell Creek Estuary Natural Area, is at the end of Selkirk Drive a few blocks from the Palmier home. The 60-acre park features trails and scenic overlooks along Cook Inlet.

The park also brings a new parking area and increased traffic to the neighborhood, said Dale Walther, who lives on Edinburgh. Thieves tend to target vehicles parked at natural areas because they're left unattended, sometimes for hours.

"I know there was a lot of concern in the neighborhood about opening the area up to parking issues, things like that," Walther said. "There were security concerns as well."

Palmier said his adult sons wondered if his attackers came from the park.

"Who knows where they came from?" he said. "I tend to believe I happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time -- and it was in my own driveway."

West High doesn't have any door-to-door fundraisers for boys sports going on right now, according to Heather Roach, a spokeswoman for the Anchorage School District.

The district requires any student athletes doing door-to-door fundraising be accompanied by their coach, Roach said. They also need to wear uniforms and show school IDs.

Anyone with information about the attack on Palmier can call police dispatch at (907) 786-8900 or, to remain anonymous, Anchorage Crime Stoppers at (907) 561-7867.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Reach Zaz Hollander at zhollander@adn.com or 257-4317.