Fight among partygoers led to fatal shooting, police say

CROSSFIRE: Party details emerge as investigation finds threats to witnesses.

September 23, 2009 

The east-side gunfight that broke out during a rowdy underage drinking party last weekend, killing a teenage girl, grew out of a fight between a local street gang and another group of men, according to court documents filed Wednesday in a related criminal case.

The documents, which detail drug possession and witness tampering charges filed against a 19-year-old who was at the gathering, say about 20 or 30 people, including several juveniles, were at the home at 7951 E. 36th Ave. when a fight broke out between two groups.

"Witnesses' statements regarding the fight indicate that the larger group of men belong to a local gang known as the "K.C." gang. Shortly after the fight ended, gunfire erupted in the front yard," an affidavit filed in court by Assistant District Attorney Paul Miovas says. "The girl was caught in the cross fire when hit and she died as a result of the wound."

The dead girl, 17-year-old Desirae Douglas, graduated from the Military Youth Academy early this year and was working at McDonald's, according to an obituary prepared for publication by her family. When she turned 18, she planned to apply for the nursing program at the University of Alaska An chorage.

The blitz of gunfire about 2 a.m. Sunday left her dead of a single gunshot wound before police arrived. Police spent more than a day at the crime scene collecting evidence.

"There were shells up and down the street," police Lt. Dave Parker said. "It took them hours just to get to the front door."

Many of the partiers scattered after the shootout. But minutes after the gunfire, police stopped a white sedan on Pioneer Drive and two people took off running. They were later caught, interviewed and released, though the vehicle was seized as evidence, Parker said Wednesday.

During the investigation, the mother of another teenaged girl who was at the party called police to report Shearn Joshua, 19, had been repeatedly threatening to hurt the girl and her sister if she talked to police, according to Miovas's affidavit.

The mother and daughter showed detectives a series of seven text messages and a voice mail the girl received threatening her if she or her sister, both of whom are identified as witnesses in the affidavit, cooperated with police. The messages included the phrase "K.C.," which is the name of the street gang involved in the fight, the affidavit says.

Police on Wednesday said only that the gang is a local one and declined to provide further information about it, saying department policy is not to identify gangs to avoid giving them publicity. The affidavit alleges that Joshua is a known associate of the gang.

Police went on the lookout for Joshua and found him walking on a street in Mountain View not far from his home on Tuesday evening. When he was searched, police found 19 grams of cocaine in his coat pocket, and a subsequent search at an undisclosed location also found scales and other items used in the sale of narcotics, according to the affidavit.

Joshua has been charged with third-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance and interfering with official proceedings, both felonies that carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Joshua has several recent traffic- related court cases but this is the first time he has been hit with criminal charges, according to court records. According to the affidavit, however, he has had past contact with police. The affidavit alleges he threatened one of the same girls in a previous, undisclosed incident.

Joshua has not been charged with Douglas' death, and police would not say whether they consider him a suspect in the gun fight.

"Police are still trying to determine what role if any he played," Parker said.

Joshua made an appearance in court Wednesday afternoon, where Judge David Wallace appointed him a lawyer and held his bail to $25,000 cash. Several of Joshua's family members in attendance declined to comment.

Police have not publicly identified any suspects in the shooting, nor have they made any arrests.

Police say their investigation includes a review of cell phone pictures taken by party-goers and that they are asking anyone who was at the party or has information about the shooting to call 786-8900 or Crime Stoppers at 561-7867.

Find James Halpin online at adn.com/contact/jhalpin or call him at 257-4589.

Anchorage Daily News is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service