Shooting mystery still has police guessing about suspects

Anchorage Daily NewsJanuary 24, 2012 

Police say they continue to investigate an early Monday shooting that injured a man and led to the discovery of a marijuana grow operation inside his South Anchorage home.

As of Tuesday, police had not found the person who fired a bullet into Mark Purcella's back at his Center Street house, a detective said.

Purcella, 42, is known as an experienced guitar player familiar to the local heavy metal scene.

Purcella's roommate, Michael Hedgepeth, dropped him at a gas station on Abbott Road near Lake Otis Parkway about 12:30 a.m. Monday, then tried to leave. But a clerk called 911 upon seeing the injured Purcella, and officers arrived before Hedgepeth could get out of the parking lot in his blue pickup, said Detective James Anderson.

Officers found blood in the pickup and Purcella told them he'd been shot outside his house, Anderson said.

"The only statement he's given doesn't lead to any suspects," Anderson said. "That's all we've gotten out of him so far, was that he was letting his dog out, heard shots and got hit."

Hedgepeth was taken in for questioning. He asked for a lawyer and declined to make any statement, Anderson said.

Purcella went to a hospital where he underwent surgery, police said. Police went to his house, where they found more blood and marijuana plants growing in multiple rooms, Anderson said.

"It looked like a pretty professional operation."

There were dozens of plants: tiny ones and some that were mature and 6 feet tall, Anderson said.

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