Michael Biancosino, a Castleton State College graduate, was shot and killed early Saturday morning while driving in Savannah, Ga. with 21-year-old Emily Pickels, who was also shot and killed.
The 2007 graduate and former Sigma Delta Chi president, fondly referred to as “Tuna,” worked with his brother, Jaime Casino, at the Casino Law Group personal injury firm. Biancosino was 30 years old.
In a press release issued by the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department, patrol officers in the vicinity heard shots fired at 3:47 a.m. and found the vehicle crashed through a brick fence surrounding the Frazier Homes apartments at the west end of Henry St. and MLK Blvd.
Julian Miller, police public affairs administrator, said the investigation is continuing and that no new information could be released.
In a telephone interview Wednesday, a somber Casino talked about his brother and how close they had become, especially since he had moved to Georgia to work at his law firm.
“It’s almost like we were together from the time we woke up to the time we went to bed,” said Casino, “and having that pulled away from you is terrible.”
After Biancosino joined the firm in 2009, Casino said the company went from having a moderately sized client base to a high volume firm.
“Michael is every bit of responsible for that as I am,” Casino said. “I’m never going to be able to replace him because he had all the ingredients.”
Biancosino’s passing devastated those who knew him from the courthouse, the district attorney, and the clients who worked with him, his brother said.
“I have lawyers crying over this,” Casino said. “I’ve had people walk in and start bawling.”
Casino said that his brother “loved” Castleton. He humorously recalled that Biancosino’s friends and fraternity brothers referred to him as “Tuna.”
“I thought that was because he was big, but apparently it was because he ate a ton of tuna,” Casino said. “We went over to his house and he had tons of tuna over there.”
As Sigma’s president, Biancosino had taken other students under his wing. Professors remembered him always appearing a little intimidating, but said that he was kind to those around him.
“It’s tragic. It’s..I don’t know any other word for it…it just punches you in the gut,” Deborah Wagget, CSC professor of education, said. “He always had a big “hi” for everyone.”
Wagget added that he was also unafraid to challenge the status-quo.
“He didn’t hold back,” Wagget said. “He would answer questions, say things and not be worried what people thought of him. He would just bring his ideas that other people wouldn’t even think of.”
Members of the community also recall fond memories of Biancosino. Castleton Select board Member Cristine Smith met him when he was hired to teach her daughter piano.
“I remember Michael, although we called him ‘Tuna,’ as just a big, teddy bear kind of guy. He was always smiling,” said Smith.
She says he made learning fun and added that Biancosino and her husband, Howard, also developed a close relationship.
“He made you feel like he was part of the family. He would just come in, no knock you know?”
Casino agreed that his brother’s best characteristic was his amiability, but added that it also was his most unfortunate.
“The same thing that was beautiful about Michael was one of his less desirable traits,” Casino said. “Michael was like a big kid.”
The press release didn’t state how Biancosino and Pickels knew each other, but Casino believes that his brother was simply trying to help someone out, reasoning that Pickels just needed a ride home.
He believes Biancosino had grown “accustomed to the world he lived in,” despite knowing the danger of the area and the greater potential of being accosted. Casino thinks his brother had not taken stock of his surroundings.
“That makes me a bit mad at him that he would use poor judgment,” said Casino. “Because what was he doing? Typical Michael, helping someone out.”
Biancosino was planning to take the Law Student Admission Test in February. He was planning to become a lawyer.
“It’s really destroyed our lives,” Casino said. “I lost my best friend. My brother.”