James Dale Ritchie (November 4, 1976 –
November 12, 2016), known in the media as the "Anchorage Serial
Killer", was an American serial killer. Throughout 2016, he murdered
upwards of five individuals in and around Anchorage, Alaska, most of
whom were in parks or along bike paths.
Ritchie was killed during a shootout with members
of the Anchorage Police Department in downtown Anchorage on November
12, 2016. Following his death, a Colt Python handgun on his person
connected him to the string of murders he committed throughout the
James Dale Ritchie grew up in the Wonder Park
neighborhood of Anchorage, Alaska. He attended East Anchorage High
School, where he was noted as being a standout athlete, having played
on the 1994 state championship football and basketball teams alongside
future professional athletes Trajan Langdon and Mao Tosi.
Ritchie scored 1200 on his SAT, was recruited by
West Virginia University football team and left for college, after
which he fell out of contact with his family.
After a semester at West Virginia University,
Ritchie dropped out and returned to Alaska and became involved in drug
trade and dog fighting in 1995.
By 1998, Ritchie was an active drug dealer and had
adopted the street name "Tiny". Over the following seven years,
Ritchie was arrested a number of times, predominantly for drug-related
offenses. He was arrested for the last time in Alaska in 2005, when he
was apprehended while committing home invasion, with plastic handcuffs
and two handguns in his possession.
After serving two years in custody, he resided in
Alaska until 2013, after which he moved to Broadway, Virginia, where
his parents had been living at the time. Save for a pair of moving
violations, Ritchie had no court appearances and was observed by the
police as being a law-abiding citizen. Following a breakup with his
girlfriend, he returned to Alaska in March 2016.
Ritchie committed his first two confirmed murders
during the early morning hours of July 3, 2016, when he shot Brianna
Foisy (21) and Jason Netter Sr. (41) The two bodies were discovered
together along a bike path near Ship Creek by a bicyclist at 7:45 a.m.
Netter was noted for having extensive run-ins with
the law, often regarding his drug-related activity, as well as his
child support issues with his two daughters, one of whom changed her
name. Foisy was homeless and had fallen into substance abuse as well,
with her denying intervention offered by her adoptive mother, Marcella
Foisy. The nature of Foisy and Netter Sr.'s relationship was not
determined or disclosed.
On July 5, the deaths of Foisy and Netter were
ruled a double homicide by the Anchorage Police Department. After
reviewing hours of surveillance footage, the Anchorage Police
Department released images of two unidentified men who were persons of
interest for the investigation.
The third recorded murder committed by Ritchie took
place twenty-six days later, on July 29. Shortly after 3 a.m., Ritchie
shot the son of his childhood friend Bobby Thompson, twenty-one
year-old Treyveonkindell Thompson, multiple times while he was riding
his bicycle home from work, between Duben Avenue and Bolin Street, in
East Anchorage. Awoken by the sound of gunfire, several residents in
the area spotted Ritchie and subsequently called the police. Grabbing
Thompson's bicycle, Ritchie wheeled it away from the scene and brought
it to his home, where it was spotted but not identified as being
involved in a crime by witnesses.
The police arrived at Bolin Street, where they
found Thompson, who was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after.
Under Sergeant Slawomir Markiewicz's direction, witnesses were
interviewed and enough testimonials were given that a composite sketch
of the suspect – who would later be positively identified as Ritchie –
was created. Shortly after Thompson's murder, the Alaska State Crime
Lab confirmed that the same murder weapon responsible for Foisy and
Netter, Sr.'s murders was also responsible for Thompson's murder.
During the early hours of August 28, Ritchie shot
dead thirty-four year-old Kevin Turner and twenty-five year-old Bryant
De Husson in the Valley of the Moon park. An undisclosed female
passerby who was walking through the park discovered De Husson's body
along the trail at 1:42 a.m. Shortly after arriving, police discovered
Turner's bullet-riddled body under the pavilion in the park.
Turner, suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar
disorder, was homeless at the time, as he had not fared well at
assistant living facilities recently. De Husson, a notable
environmental activist in Anchorage, was suspected by his father
Gordon De Husson to be doing a late night bicycle ride on his new
Schwinn to meet a friend, when he encountered the fatal encounter
between Ritchie and Turner. There was no relation between De Husson
In the police report, the Anchorage Police
Department noted that there was very little evidence left at the scene
of the crime. However, the Alaska State Crime Lab confirmed that the
murder weapon used to kill Turner and De Husson had also been used in
the Foisy, Netter and Thompson homicides.
Recognizing a modus operandi displayed by the
string of murders, the Anchorage Police Department released an
advisory notice for citizens to avoid isolated trails after dark.
Following the murders of Turner and De Husson, Federal Bureau of
Investigation was brought on to assist with the investigation.
On September 6, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz
hosted a press conference that addressed that gang violence was
largely responsible for the record-breaking number of murders in the
city, though he refused to acknowledge the evidence lending towards
the serial killer theory.
The FBI offered a $10,000 reward leading to the
apprehension of the suspect responsible for Thompson's murder, while
refusing to comment on any connection to the other murders, due to the
concern that acknowledging that a weapon tying all the crimes together
would run the risk of prompting the killer to dispose of it. The joint
APD and FBI task force subsequently received upwards of 175 tips over
the following two months – none of which pertained to Ritchie.
James Dale Ritchie was killed near the corner of
5th Street and Cordova Street in Anchorage, during a gunfight with
Officer Arn Salao and Sergeant Marc Patzke of the Anchorage Police
Department on November 12, 2016.
Officer Salao, while responding to an unrelated
report of unpaid taxi cab fares, spotted Ritchie walking down the
street at 4:30 a.m. Salao pulled up alongside Ritchie and asked if he
had spotted the crime. Ritchie continued walking prompting Salao to
repeat the question over his megaphone.
Without warning, Ritchie drew his Colt Python and
opened fire on Salao, hitting him at least four times, which resulted
in damage to his bones, intestines and liver. Salao exited his patrol
car and returned fire while also engaging Ritchie in a physical
confrontation. Simultaneously, Sergeant Patzke of the K9 Unit spotted
the confrontation and fired upon Ritchie, who was killed by a number
of gunshot wounds. Salao was taken to an area hospital, where he was
moved out of the intensive care unit after seven hours of surgery.
Following James Dale Ritchie's death, the Colt
Python on his person was sent to the Alaska Crime Lab, where it was
confirmed to have been the murder weapon responsible for the deaths of
Brianna Foisy, Jason Netter Sr., Treyveonkindell Thompson, Kevin
Turner and Bryant De Husson. The investigative task force had not
considered Ritchie a suspect, due to his lack of run-ins with the law
over the decade prior.
After seventy-eight hours of investigation and
contacting the victims' families, Anchorage Police Department Chief
Chris Tolley hosted a press conference in which he announced the
connection between the homicides and the attempt on Officer Salao's
Additionally, Lieutenant John McKinnon confirmed
that the investigation had revealed a connection between the murders,
but the task force withheld it from the public, out of concern that
Ritchie would have disposed of the Colt Python had he realized it was
The weapon, which had been purchased in 1971, was
not registered to Ritchie- the original owner was questioned by the
Anchorage Police Department, with the intent of discovering how it
found its way into Ritchie's possession.
Ritchie was immediately identified as being the
assailant responsible for Thompson's murder, due to the witnesses and
the identification of his photo identification matching the composite
sketch. While the Anchorage Police Department continued to collect
evidence implicating Ritchie's involvement in the other homicides tied
to the Colt Python, the FBI looked to trace Ritchie's activities in
Virginia and Nevada, prior to returning to Alaska in 2016.
On April 26, 2017, Anchorage Police Department
spokesperson Renee Oistad announced that sufficient probable cause was
determined to confirm that Ritchie was solely responsible for the five
murders and therefore, a confirmed serial killer. Investigators had
traced the Colt Python handgun's whereabouts back to confirm that it
had found its way into Ritchie's possession prior to the murders of
Foisy and Netter in July 2016. With Oistad's announcement, the cases
Through ballistics, Ritchie's Colt Python was
connected with four crime scenes that include two double homicides,
one homicide and the attempted murder of a police office. The victims
Brianna Foisy, 20, and Jason Netter Sr., 41: shot
and killed on July 3, 2016, along a bike path near Ship Creek, west of
N Post Road and Viking Drive, east of Anchorage.
Treyveonkindell Bobby Dwayne Thompson, 21: shot and
killed on Bolin Street on July 29, 2016, in East Anchorage.
Kevin S. Turner, 34, and Bryant C. De Husson, 25:
shot and killed on August 28, 2016, at Valley of the Moon Park, in
Officer Arn Salao: shot and wounded on November 12,
2016 at 5th Street and Cordova Street, in Downtown Anchorage. Salao
and Sergeant Marc Patzke returned fire and killed Ritchie.
Man who died in shootout with Anchorage officers
last year was a serial killer, police say
Annie Zak -
Alaska Dispatch News
April 26, 2017
A man who was killed in November in a shootout with an Anchorage
police officer was behind five homicides — including two double
murders — in the city last summer, police said Wednesday.
Homicide detectives with the Anchorage Police Department "have
established sufficient probable cause" to conclude that James Dale
Ritchie, 40, was responsible for those killings, according to a
statement released Wednesday morning.
Officials with APD and the FBI did not provide any additional
information on the investigation beyond that statement Wednesday,
despite repeated requests. Each agency referred questions to the
"The revolver Ritchie had in his possession in November was linked to
five homicides cases as the murder weapon," APD spokeswoman Renee
Oistad wrote. "Homicide detectives were able to establish Ritchie
possessed the .357 Colt Python before any of the killings and that he
All investigations into Ritchie are now closed, she added.
In November, police said Ritchie fired six rounds at officer Arn Salao
in a shootout that began after Salao contacted Ritchie early on the
morning of Nov. 12 after a call about an unpaid cab fare in downtown
Anchorage. Ritchie opened fire on the officer, police said, leading to
Salao and Sgt. Marc Patzke returning fire and killing Ritchie near
Fifth Avenue and Cordova Street.
The five homicides from last summer that Ritchie has been found
responsible for are:
• The July 3 killings of Brianna Foisy, 20, and Jason Netter Sr., 41,
on a bike path near Ship Creek;
• The July 29 death of 21-year-old Treyveonkindell Thompson on Bolin
Street in East Anchorage;
• The double homicide of Kevin S. Turner, 34, and Bryant "Brie"
DeHusson, 25, on the morning of Aug. 28 at Valley of the Moon Park.
Police had previously concluded that Ritchie killed Thompson, but the
investigation into the two double murders had remained open.
It was unclear why authorities were not revealing any information
about how they determined when Ritchie had possession of the revolver,
any possible motives for the crimes or pre-existing relationships
between Ritchie and the victims, and his activities in Anchorage in
the period before, during and after the murders.
Staci Feger-Pellessier, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Anchorage, said
in a text message Wednesday afternoon that APD was the lead
investigative agency, despite APD saying earlier in the day that
additional requests for information should go through the FBI.
Feger-Pellessier said the FBI "provided safe street task force members
and help from our Behavioral Analysis Unit" in the investigation, but
would not provide further details.
"I can't answer why they (APD) referred to us" for questions,
Feger-Pellessier said via text.
In an email just after 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oistad said "all involved
agencies are declining to further comment on these cases," and APD
"does not wish to discuss investigative techniques that could
potentially interfere or compromise future investigations."
'I've ruined my life': Suspect in officer
shooting was East High grad with criminal record
Ben Anderson, Michelle Theriault Boots - Adn.com
November 15, 2016
A gun used to shoot a police officer Saturday
morning was the same weapon used in at least five homicides in the
city so far this year, including two unsolved double homicides,
Anchorage police said Tuesday (Nov. 15).
The Anchorage Police Department officer who was
wounded, Arn Salao, was shot four times and underwent two surgeries
after the confrontation, but was recovering and expected to survive.
The suspect, 40-year-old James Dale Ritchie, was killed after Salao
and Sgt. Marc Patzke — who arrived during the shootout — returned
fire, police said.
"We know from our investigation in the last 78
hours that the gun used to attempt to kill officer Salao was the same
gun used in five other homicides here in Anchorage in 2016," APD Chief
Chris Tolley said at a news conference Tuesday.
Those five homicides are:
• The July 3 killings of Brianna Foisy, 20, and
Jason Netter Sr., 41, on a bike path near Ship Creek;
• The July 29 death of 21-year-old Treyveonkindell
Thompson on Bolin Street in East Anchorage;
• The double homicide of Kevin S. Turner, 34, and
Bryant "Brie" DeHusson, 25, early on the morning of Aug. 28 at Valley
of the Moon Park.
Tolley previously described Saturday's shooting as
an "ambush" that came as the officer responded to a report of a theft
suspect. Salao was shot while he was still inside his patrol vehicle,
APD spokesperson Jennifer Castro said.
Castro stressed Tuesday that although the gun used
to shoot Salao — a Colt Python .357 — had been linked to the five
homicides, police were still investigating Ritchie's possible ties to
It wasn't clear if Ritchie, an East Anchorage High
School graduate, had any connection to any of the victims in the
"We still have not linked the suspect to these
cases, so we still have more work to do," she said.
"Our investigations are open," said Lt. John
McKinnon, head of APD's homicide and robbery/assault units. "The big
thing is that the cases are still pending and we'll follow the
evidence wherever it goes, and we'll make determinations on what cases
we can or cannot close at a future date."
Police said Tuesday another as-yet-unsolved double
homicide, which took place in January at Point Woronzof, was not
connected to the other homicides.
Who was James Ritchie?
James Dale Ritchie grew up in East Anchorage and
was a standout athlete at East Anchorage High School. He and his two
sisters and parents lived in a home in the Wonder Park neighborhood,
public records show.
At East, Ritchie was an offensive lineman on the
1994 state championship football team, according to news articles from
the time. He also played on the state championship basketball team.
Teammates remember him utilizing his 6-foot, 3-inch frame as a power
"There were colleges looking at him in high
school," said Donteh DeVoe, a former basketball teammate who played
alongside Ritchie at East. "He had potential to go on to the NFL. He
was a great athlete."
"He was a happy, positive person in high school.
It's shocking to me," said Mao Tosi, another high school teammate.
Ritchie graduated from East in 1994, the same year
Arn Salao — the Anchorage police officer injured in Saturday's fatal
encounter — was attending the school as a freshman. It wasn't clear if
the two men were acquainted with each other.
After high school, Ritchie's athletic dreams were
derailed by drugs and a felony record. His first encounter with police
occurred in 1998, four years after he graduated.
According to charging documents in that case,
officers following up on a drug sale investigation encountered Ritchie
in an Anchorage apartment. Ritchie, whom officers greeted by his
street name of "Tiny," immediately reached for his waistband when
officers came into the apartment. A loaded semiautomatic handgun fell
out of his pant leg, according to charging documents.
A search revealed ammunition on Ritchie, along with
a number of folded bills and a baggie filled with several rocks of
crack cocaine. Officers also found an electronic scale in the bedroom
and the owner of the apartment told police Ritchie and her son were
apparently selling drugs.
Ritchie pleaded no contest to felony misconduct
involving a controlled substance in the third degree. He was sentenced
to three years probation.
In a letter to the judge in his case, Ritchie wrote
that he "lay in bed every night thinking about how I've ruined my
life. Then I sit up crying wishing I could go back to when I was in
Ritchie wrote he would have "chosen a small
Division II school to go play football at instead of a Division I
"I want to finish college, raise a family and buy a
house," he wrote. "Instead as a felon I'll never be able to get a good
It's not clear whether Ritchie actually played
There was more trouble to come.
On parole in 1999, Ritchie was pulled over for
driving erratically near Columbine Street and DeBarr Road. Ritchie
told officers he had been drinking tequila and beer and taken two
Prozac pills. Officers found crack in the glove box and a loaded
.45-caliber semiautomatic handgun in the passenger seat, as well as an
open beer on the passenger floor of the car, court records show.
Ritchie again pleaded no contest to fourth-degree
misconduct involving a controlled substance. He was sentenced to three
In the year 2000, Ritchie filed for a business
license for a vending machine servicing operation called Ritchie
Enterprises, using his parents' address. It's unclear whether it got
off the ground.
From 2002 to 2005, Ritchie was arrested several
times for parole violations, mostly serving time for those violations
in halfway houses, according to state Department of Corrections
spokesperson Corey Allen-Young.
In 2005, Ritchie was arrested for first-degree
burglary after police responded to a report of an East Anchorage
break-in. Officers found a large wad of money on Ritchie totaling
almost $5,500 and eight zip ties in his front coat tied into a set of
"flex cuffs." Two guns were later found in the house occupants of the
residence said did not belong to them.
Ritchie pleaded no contest in the case. Allen-Young
said Ritchie spent just over two years in custody before being
released on Nov. 16, 2007.
Ritchie had not been in correctional custody in
Alaska since then, Allen-Young said.
The last time Ritchie applied for a Permanent Fund
dividend was in 2009, according to public records. The last time he
had a listed address in Anchorage was a house on Lane Street, in the
Russian Jack neighborhood, in 2011.
It appears he spent some time in Virginia after
that, where his parents live in Broadway, a small town not far from
the West Virginia border.
Court records in Harrisonburg/Rockingham District
Court show minor traffic infractions for Ritchie in 2013 and 2014.
Police said Tuesday Ritchie returned to Alaska this
On his Facebook page, he posted pictures at the end
of January from travels around the Lower 48. Police are still
investigating where Ritchie was living in recent months.
He was not homeless, and may have resided at more
than one location, said Castro.
"We are hoping to get more information from the
community about his daily whereabouts and activities," she said.
Reached separately by phone, Ritchie's mother and
sister declined to speak on Tuesday.
"The last time I'd seen him was at a restaurant
about a year ago," said DeVoe, Ritchie's former Thunderbirds
basketball teammate. "He still looked young and healthy. It seemed
like we were back in high school."
It was a brief encounter that ended with a smile
and a hug, DeVoe said.
Rumors and fact
Authorities had been tight-lipped about a number of
unsolved Anchorage homicides this year, despite the involvement of the
FBI and widespread rumors a serial killer was roaming the city or that
some of the killings were linked.
Witness accounts allowed police to create a sketch
of a "person of interest" in the Treyveonkindell Thompson case. The
FBI offered a $10,000 reward in early September for information in the
case that generated more than 175 tips, according to an investigative
timeline released by police on Tuesday. Police had also canvassed
neighborhoods and homeless camps in areas near the shootings.
The State Crime Lab determined "a few days" after
Thompson was killed that the same gun was used in the deaths of Foisy,
Netter and Thompson, Castro said. That information was not made
After the Valley of the Moon killings, police
determined the same gun was used again. At that point, "police still
did not know who the shooter was or if there was more than one,"
according to the investigative timeline. Tuesday marked the first time
police publicly acknowledged Turner and DeHusson had been shot.
Police say they withheld the fact that the same gun
had been used in the five homicides — even from the families of the
victims — over concerns releasing it would compromise the
McKinnon said police were trying to preserve the
evidence — a strategy he believes led to the recovery of the gun after
"If we had made a big deal about it, then it might
have gotten lost or disposed of," McKinnon said.
"Without the ballistics and that gun, we had no
evidential way of tying these cases together," Castro said. "That's
how important that gun is."
The victims' families found out about the
connection between cases prior to a Tuesday morning press conference,
according to Billy Ray Turner, Kevin Turner's brother.
On Monday night, police contacted Kevin Turner's
family and told them to come to a conference the next morning, said
Billy Ray Turner. It was the first time they'd heard from law
enforcement since shortly after his brother was killed at Valley of
the Moon, he said.
Billy Ray Turner said he initially searched for
answers in his brother's death, but detectives told him not to go
digging. They weren't specific about details, but he said they told
him if Kevin Turner was killed in such cold-blooded fashion, Billy Ray
might be in danger if he came in contact with the person responsible.
His mother worried about the same scenario, so he
He started to think his brother's homicide
investigation had turned cold, and another family could lose a loved
one with the killer still on the streets, he said.
He said his family was hurt APD didn't provide
details sooner, particularly how Kevin Turner died.
That's something he still hopes to find out.
"I want to know where was he shot, how long was he
alive, did he suffer? These are the things I'd like to know," Billy
Ray Turner said, adding he hoped the new evidence would serve as a
turning point for more transparency in the case.
In late August, a notice went out to the public to
avoid isolated trails or roads alone at night, though APD declined at
that time to say if the warning was related to any of the recent
"We were trying to balance the best of both worlds
without jeopardizing a case or investigation," Castro said of the
Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said police briefed
him Monday afternoon on the revelation about the weapon used in the
five unsolved homicides. He said he was previously unaware of any
connection between the slayings.
Berkowitz said he had "actively stayed away" from
pursuing information from police about the cases, citing his two years
of experience in the Anchorage district attorney's office in the early
"I think it's inappropriate for the civilian
authority to intervene in a police investigation," Berkowitz said.
Berkowitz also said he did not think the police
erred in withholding the information, or inappropriately prioritized
an investigation over public safety.
"I would suspect that the police had access to all
kinds of psychological understandings of what a person who is engaged
in this kind of behavior would do and how they would behave, and
shaped their investigation accordingly," Berkowitz said.
He added: "I think it's a vast oversimplification
to think that the police should have compromised their investigation
simply to inform the public about the course of their investigation.
There's a real possibility the wrong communication at the wrong time
could have jeopardized public safety."
Reporters Chris Klint, Suzanna Caldwell and Jerzy
Shedlock contributed to this report.
Anchorage officer wounded in shooting is
recovering, police say
Michelle Theriault Boots - Alaska Dispatch News
November 14, 2016
A police officer shot in his patrol car in downtown
Anchorage early Saturday was in stable condition Sunday night.
The officer, whose name has not been released,
underwent two surgeries for "multiple gunshot wounds" on Saturday,
said Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Castro. On
Sunday, he was recovering in a local hospital, she said.
The suspect in Saturday's incident was killed in
gunfire from police. Police are still trying to notify his
next-of-kin, and no name had been released as of Sunday night.
The incident is the second time in a month an
Alaska police officer has been taken by surprise by gunshots as they
were arriving at a call. It has unsettled police ranks already on
edge, said Sgt. Gerard Asselin, the president of the Anchorage Police
Department Employees Association.
"It's a tenuous situation for our folks who see
this on a national level, who less than three weeks ago saw it in
Fairbanks and now it's right here affecting our own department,"
Asselin said Sunday.
The attack drew parallels to the still-raw death of
a Fairbanks police officer. In that incident, Sgt. Allen Brandt was
shot as he responded to a report of gunfire in downtown Fairbanks Oct.
16. Brandt later died after complications from a surgery to remove
bullet fragments from his eye.
Many facts about Saturday's shooting have not been
publicly disclosed by police, or are still under investigation.
Here's what police have said happened.
An APD officer was on a downtown patrol in the
early hours of Saturday morning when a call came in to police dispatch
reporting a theft suspect around the area of Fifth Avenue and Cordova
Street, a quiet stretch of a major downtown thoroughfare.
As the officer was "initiating a stop" a man with a
gun "approached the patrol car and started firing at the officer,"
hitting him multiple times, according to police. The officer fired
back. The call came in about the shooting at 4:36 a.m., police have
said. Another officer arrived as the shooting was happening and also
fired at the suspect, who was declared dead at the scene.
On Sunday, nothing was left on the sidewalk outside
the Office Depot at Fifth Avenue and Cordova Street but a scattering
of crushed glass on the sidewalk.
Police have not released the name of the suspect,
or any details about his background or motive. It is also not clear
whether the man who shot at the officer was the person described by
the caller as the thief suspect.
At a Saturday news conference, police chief
Christopher Tolley described the shooting as an "ambush." The officer
was shot while he was still inside his patrol vehicle, wrote Castro in
an email. Police are still investigating whether the officer was lured
to the area on purpose, she said.
Anchorage police have dashcam footage of the
shooting unfolding. Releasing it would have pros and cons, Castro
said. Such footage can support what the department has said about an
incident. But it "can show horrific events and you have to consider
how your residents feel about seeing something like that as well as
the family and loved ones of the people who were involved."
No determination has been made about whether the
footage will be released, she said.
Anchorage police don't ride in pairs but typically
arrive at calls involving weapons or the threat of violence with a
second unit for backup, according to Castro.
In this case, Asselin said, there was no warning at
"This was a simple theft and this officer was in a
battle for his life."
Anchorage police officer shot multiple times and
survives; suspect killed
Alaska Dispatch News
November 13, 2016
An Anchorage police officer was shot multiple times
downtown early Saturday and a suspect was shot and killed, police
The police officer, who has not been identified,
was in surgery late Saturday afternoon, an Anchorage Police Department
spokesperson said, adding the officer was expected to survive.
The person who was shot and killed has not been
APD Chief Chris Tolley described the shooting, in
the area of Fifth Avenue and Cordova Street, as "a clear and
intentional ambush" as the officer responded to a report of a theft.
The shooting was recorded on video, Tolley said:
"It's horrific. It is really sad."
The state Office of Special Prosecutions is
investigating the shooting to determine if officers' use of force was
justified. APD is consulting with prosecutors about whether to release
the vehicle's dashcam video of the incident, said spokesperson
In a written statement, APD said the officer was
responding to "a report of a theft suspect who was on foot" near Fifth
Avenue and Cordova Street.
"As the officer was initiating a stop, a male
brandishing a gun approached the patrol car and started firing at the
officer," the police statement said.
"The officer was shot multiple times and also
returned fire. Another APD officer arrived as shots were being fired
and that officer also shot at the suspect," the statement continued.
"Additional officers responded and rendered aid to the injured officer
and the suspect. The suspect was declared deceased at the scene."
The shootings were first reported at 4:36 a.m.,
Tolley told reporters officers arrived almost
"This officer was attempting to identify an
individual potentially involved in a theft," he said. "And almost
immediately, the person this officer came in contact with ambushed the
officer. Totally surprised the officer…This officer took quick action
and almost immediately, other officers arrived on the scene. And even
though the officer was shot multiple times, officers returned fire and
subdued the suspect. Once they got the suspect under control, our
officers tried to save this individual's life. They were unsuccessful
and the individual died there at the scene."
The police chief said investigators were trying to
piece together information about the suspect. Police also were
interviewing possible witnesses, he said.
Fifth Avenue, a main downtown east-west
thoroughfare, was closed between Denali and Barrow streets most of the
morning, with two blocks sealed off by crime-scene tape. Detectives
were seen placing yellow evidence markers on the southwest corner of
Fifth and Cordova around 11 a.m.; other officers stood at the edge of
the crime scene.
Fifth Avenue reopened around 2 p.m.
Last month, a Fairbanks police officer, Sgt. Allen
Brandt, was shot as he drove on a street there. He died of
complications during surgery several days later. A man accused in the
shooting has been charged with murder.
"We're seeing this across our state. We're seeing
this across our nation and around the world," Tolley said. People
choosing a criminal lifestyle and perpetrating violence against law
enforcement is "unfortunate," he said.
Tolley emphasized the continuing efforts to grow
the city's police force. The department has 387 sworn officers, and 27
of those officers are going through the department's academy, Castro
"It is so critical that we get to the staffing
levels to make the streets as safe as possible, because ultimately
that is the goal," Chief Tolley said.
Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, who attended
Saturday morning's news conference, has set a goal to reach a total of
400 officers during his administration.
Sgt. Gerard Asselin, president of the Anchorage
Police Department Employees Association said APD is emerging from a
difficult time. The department has not had the resources to thoroughly
investigate crimes like theft, he said.
"I wouldn't say the city is unsafe," Asselin said.
"But we're appreciative of the efforts to grow the department and make
the city that much safer."
Unsolved Homicides in Anchorage Alarm Residents
and Baffle Police
By The Associated Press - The New York Times
September 3, 2016
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A rash of unsolved outdoor
homicides in Alaska’s largest city is putting residents on edge.
Altogether, the deaths of nine people who were
killed on Anchorage trails, in parks or on isolated streets since
January remain unsolved — among them three cases involving two victims
“It’s terrifying,” said Jennifer Hazen, a longtime
resident who lives near Valley of the Moon Park, where two people were
found dead early last Sunday, one of them on a park bike trail. Ms.
Hazen said she walked in the park regularly and found some comfort in
knowing that the unsolved homicides occurred in the middle of the
night when she would not be out there, anyway.
“I’m just really shocked about all this happening,”
said another resident, Yegor Christman, as he walked his dog on the
bike trail. “I thought I lived in a pretty safe area.”
Adding to the feeling of vulnerability, Anchorage
has had 25 homicides this year. That is the same number the city had
for the entire year in 2015. Even though the number is high, the
police point out that 1995, with 29 homicides, had the highest numbers
in the past two decades.
With 15 homicides since late June, the Anchorage
Police Department issued an unusual public advisory last week urging
residents to be “extra aware” of their surroundings, noting that
crimes often increase at night and early in the morning.
“A.P.D. wants to remind our citizens to be cautious
when they are out during these hours, especially if they are in
isolated areas like our parks, bike trails or unoccupied streets,” the
Police Department wrote. “If you plan to be out late at night, make
sure you travel with several friends and not alone.”
Chief Chris Tolley played down the significance of
the advisory, saying that the police often remind the public to be
safe, sometimes through a text messaging system.
This year, the police issued a similar safety alert
after a series of car break-ins and thefts, Chief Tolley said. The
goal was the same in this week’s advisory, to inform the public.
In two of the unsolved cases, the victims were shot
and found alone. The police will not say how the victims died in the
rest of the cases, and they will not say what details have been shared
with the families of the victims.
The police have released few details on any of the
cases, saying investigators have not made any clear connections among
Asked if investigators believe that a serial killer
could be on the loose, a police spokeswoman, Jennifer Castro, said the
police always try to determine if unsolved crimes are related.
The only common denominators found among the
victims are that the deaths occurred outdoors, in the early hours and
in isolated places like trails and unoccupied streets.
John McCleary is a longtime volunteer with the
city’s Trail Watch program, which was started in 2006 after a string
of assaults, mostly against women, on local trails. Trail Watch
volunteers serve two purposes: to be the eyes for the Police
Department, reporting any problems, and to create safer conditions on
300 miles of trails with such efforts as cutting down vegetation.
But Mr. McCleary, the former director of the
program for the city, said he had never seen a situation with so many
unsolved killings — and he has been connected with city trails since
the late 1970s. He says he feels angry and frustrated that people
cannot enjoy the trails as they could a decade ago.
“This is so abnormal,” he said. “It doesn’t seem
like I’m in the same city.”