Robert "Bob" Musser, 69, accused of shooting and injuring two police officers in a standoff and found dead in his Hillside home early Friday, was an Army veteran and former commodities broker who had showed signs of mental decline in recent months, according to records and interviews with neighbors.
The portrait of Musser emerged as police remained locked in the standoff on Ginami Street Thursday evening, near the intersection of Toilsome Hill Drive. The Anchorage Police Department action started Wednesday morning when tree trimmers working on a utility easement in the area reported being threatened and shot at.
In a phone interview, Musser's longtime mail carrier, Grady Lindly, described Musser as a friend. The two shared military backgrounds, and both once worked for the Federal Aviation Administration's Anchorage air traffic control center, Lindly said.
Musser walked down to his mailbox a few times a week to visit. The two would talk about a lot of things: family, military, favorite pastimes. Lindly described Musser as self-sufficient, someone who wanted to be left alone but was always nice whenever they talked.
He also said Musser was a "constitutionalist" who was adamant people stay off his property. During the state primary elections, Musser ran campaigners off his lawn, Lindly said.
A few months ago, Musser's dog died, Lindly said. Police also reported Musser was coping with the recent death of his mother.
Attempted U.S. Senate bid
Earlier this year, Musser filed a long-shot application to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Lisa Murkowski.
The document was postmarked on the filing deadline, June 1, but state law requires the paperwork to be delivered before the deadline, so elections officials rejected Musser's application.
The document reveals little about Musser. On the line asking for his political group, he typed, "Veteran US Army," then scrawled a handwritten addition: "macroeconomist."
In a letter to Musser rejecting his application, elections officials said his paperwork indicated he was running as a candidate of the Veterans Party of Alaska — a political group not recognized as a party by the state.
But Chair Steve Harrison said the group had tried unsuccessfully to get a different candidate on the ballot in the U.S. Senate race, Bruce Walden of Wasilla. Harrison said he wasn't aware of any ties between Musser and the party.
"I don't know the guy," Harrison said.
Musser worked for financial services companies, including E.F. Hutton and Archer Daniels Midland, according to state and federal lawsuits in which he was a party, and newspaper stories.
In 2000, Musser applied to head the Permanent Fund Corp. as a "senior analyst" with Archer Daniels Midland in Anchorage.
A 1981 feature in the Anchorage Daily News shows a picture of Musser, with a thick dark mustache, working in front of a computer terminal in Denali Towers as a commodities broker. The article said Musser had worked as an air traffic controller for six years before becoming a commodities broker.
"There you were dealing with people's lives; here you're dealing with people's money," Musser told his interviewer.
David Allen, who worked with Musser at Hutton & Shearson for roughly a decade ending when Allen left Alaska in 1992, remembered Musser in an email Friday as a "nice, fun loving, gentle human being."
"He did have some quirks, but he was a smart guy and managed millions of dollars for several local Native corporations," Allen wrote. "Whether it was (post-traumatic stress disorder), the loss of people and animals you love, sheer loneliness, or a combination there of, this is a very sad and final chapter to Bob's life."
On a Facebook profile that appears to belong to Musser, he said his hometown was Tulsa, Oklahoma. He said he came to Alaska with the military, where he defended Anchorage and its bases at the Site Summit Nike missile site on the edge of the Chugach Mountains.
Signs of personal, financial trouble
Court records contained signs of a troubled past.
In 1999, Musser's father, Richard Musser, sought an emergency domestic violence protective order against his son. He accused Bob Musser of taking his pickup from the parking spot where he lived. Richard Musser wrote in the petition his son was threatening to dismantle another of his trucks.
"He is 52 years old and this has its roots in difficulties when he was growing up," Richard Musser wrote of his son. "He alleges that I am drinking and driving which is not true." The senior Musser said he was sober and had been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for 31 years.
In May 2002, Musser filed for personal bankruptcy. He also stopped paying his property taxes, leading to a court dispute in 2008.
Last fall, Musser was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. According to a charging document, Musser crashed into another car near his home, by Hillside Drive and Upper Huffman Road, injuring the other driver. The driver told police Musser was driving in the wrong direction in the northbound lane of traffic, the charges say.
Musser had an "odor of alcohol" and "glassy, watery eyes," the charges say. He told police he'd had two beers.
The case was dismissed Aug. 9, but the court record was unclear about what happened.
Near the scene of the standoff Thursday, neighbors said Musser walked his dog around the neighborhood and the trails. They described him as friendly but quiet. He tended to keep to himself.
Lindly, Musser's friend, said after the dog died, he spotted Musser walking alone earlier this month. Musser said he was exercising, but something didn't seem quite right.
About two weeks ago, Lindly delivered Musser's mail directly to his home because the mailbox hadn't been emptied for some time.
Lindly talked to Musser and reminded him he needed to clear his box. But that didn't happen. The two men spoke again. Lindly said Musser seemed disgruntled.
"Something was different," Lindly said. "I would say he seemed off-center."
Musser was an avid and talented marksman, Lindly said. Musser showed several handguns to Lindly over the years, which he would practice shooting at the state Rabbit Creek range.
"If he was in his right mind he wouldn't shoot at one of his comrades," Lindly said. "He knows that many of those officers are former military."
Lindly said Musser usually displayed a "happy-go-lucky" attitude when they talked. But he said that seemed to change once Musser's dog died.
"I think he began to taper off," Lindly said.
Nathaniel Herz contributed to this report.