Man shot and killed in ruckus outside Anchorage nightclub

ldemer@adn.comOctober 28, 2012 

MONDAY MORNING UPDATE:

Police on Monday morning identified the man killed outside the Platinum Jaxx Halloween party as 27-year-old Said Beshirov. Detectives have made no arrest in the case.

...

ORIGINAL STORY:

A fatal shooting outside a downtown Anchorage nightclub early Sunday happened just before bar closing hours as the crowd spilled outside.

Platinum Jaxx, on Sixth Avenue and I Street, was hosting its annual Halloween party Saturday night and many in the crowd were wearing costumes, said Jess Hepper, one of the nightclub's owners. He met with police Sunday afternoon to pore over the club's security videos.

A video from a security camera outside the club showed two young women being confronted by a group of three men, two in costumes, Hepper said. The man who was shot may have tried to help the women, according to Hepper's recounting of what witnesses said. Police say they are sorting through statements and tracking down leads.

As of Sunday evening, Anchorage police had not identified the victim.

The shooting was one of two incidents of violence downtown early on Sunday.

Police were called to Platinum Jaxx at 2:53 a.m. The club has last call for drinks at 2:30 a.m. and clears out patrons by 3 a.m., Hepper said.

Witnesses told police of "a large disturbance outside of Platinum Jaxx" and said shots had been fired. A man in his mid-20s was found critically injured, police said. Medics rushed him to a local hospital, where he died of gunshot wounds, police said. Police have not identified the man.

Just minutes before, at 2:41 a.m., an officer patrolling downtown found another man collapsed outside at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and G Street, just three blocks from the nightclub. The man, also in his mid-20s, had suffered "penetrating wounds" but police are waiting for medical reports before specifying whether the injuries were caused by a knife, gunfire or something else, said Lt. Dave Parker, a police spokesman.

So far, detectives have not found any direct connection between the two incidents, Parker said Sunday afternoon.

In the fatal shooting, police have been interviewing witnesses but haven't publicly identified any suspects or "persons of interest," Parker said. Detectives weren't ready to release details on what they suspect happened.

Detectives said they believe that multiple people may have recorded the shooting on their smart phones and ask for people with video of the situation to call 786-8900.

Police will download the videos and immediately return smart phones to their owners, Parker wrote in an email.

On Sunday, police crime scene investigators were poring over Sixth Avenue outside of Platinum Jaxx. The area was cordoned off by yellow crime scene tape, and the club, which usually opens early on Sundays, was closed. A cook who showed up for his shift starting at 1 p.m. found the doors locked and went home. The club reopened at 5 p.m.

Numerous yellow evidence markers could be seen in the street and on the sidewalk, and investigators were collecting and documenting items. Some investigators walked the area with metal detectors. The Anchorage Police Department's new crime scene evidence van -- a huge, customized vehicle -- was stationed along Sixth Avenue, blocking the road.

The club was packed during the Halloween party, but there were no fights or disturbances inside, Hepper said.

A security camera outside the nightclub captured some of the ruckus though the actual shooting was out of the camera's view, said Hepper, who watched the video. One man in the crowd can be seen on the security video holding up his phone, as if he was recording the whole thing.

As patrons left the club, the crowd outside numbered maybe 40. "Most of the people had scattered," Hepper said.

A man in a cowboy costume, one wearing a Richard Nixon mask and a third man not in costume were waiting outside and confronted the two young women as they tried to leave, Hepper said, relaying what was on the video.

The man "in the Richard Nixon (mask) -- he goes up and chest bumps one of the girls to knock her down," Hepper said. "You can see that plain as day."

The man who was later shot can also be seen with a friend, holding him back.

"Then things left the camera view. You see the guy that got shot walk over that way," Hepper said.

Indoor cameras showed that the man who was killed as well as the other group of men were all inside the club earlier, and didn't get cause trouble, Hepper said.

"We do our best to make sure that people are protected here," he said. "Unfortunately once they got outside, it's just impossible to manage everybody at that point." The club has 10 to 13 security guards working on a busy Saturday night, he said. As an added security layer, the club takes the pictures of patrons coming in and scans their IDs. But with people in costume on Saturday night, the club didn't take their pictures, he said.

About a year ago, Hepper said he spoke with Anchorage police about hiring off-duty officers for closing time. An officer in a patrol car parked outside likely would prevent trouble, he said. But the idea didn't go anywhere.

Parker said he's not sure what happened with Platinum Jaxx's request. Off-duty officers already are hired to help with traffic control during events at Sullivan Arena and at big churches. They are paid by the private groups, Parker said.

In July 2011, a man who had been refused entry into the club shot the security guard at the door, police said at the time. The bullet passed through the security guard and struck a patron.

People need to feel safe there, Hepper said.

"It's just ridiculous that people cannot go out and have a good time and go home."

Platinum Jaxx opened in 2006. Two years later, federal prosecutors said one of the initial investors, Wallie Vierra, used drug money to help start the business. After Vierra's criminal case was resolved in a plea deal, the federal government seized his stake, a 25 percent ownership in the club. None of the other owners were implicated.

The other owners later bought out the federal government, Hepper said. It's now owned by Hepper, Jaysir Alden, and attorney Paul Stockler.

 

Reach Lisa Demer at ldemer@adn.com or 257-4390.

 

 

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