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Suspect charged with murder in East Anchorage shootout

Kyle Hopkins,Casey Grove
Lee Chee Chang and detective sergeant Slaw Markiewicz talk with others after Rex Butler and Tank Jones brought Chang in. Chang was being sought as a person of interest in the recent double homicide at JJ's Lounge.Chang was charged with first-degree murder Wednesday night October 12, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Tank Jones, Lee Chee Chang and Rex Butler walk into the Anchorage Police Department Wednesday night, October 12, 2011. Chang was charged with first-degree murder in the shootings at JJ's Lounge.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Police spokesperson Lt. Dave Parker (right) talks with attorney Rex Butler, Lee Chee Chang and Tank Jones (left) at the Anchorage Police Department. Chang was charged with first-degree murder.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Attorney Rex Butler's associate Tank Jones (right) walks with Lee Chee Chang into the Anchorage Police Department Wednesday night, October 12, 2011. Chang was charged with first-degree murder in the shootings at JJ's Lounge.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Attorney Rex Butler brought Lee Chee Chang into the Anchorage Police Department who were looking for him as a person of interest in the recent double homicide at JJ's Lounge. Tank Jones accompanied them to APD headquarters where detective sergeant Slaw Markiewicz brought him into the police department on Wednesday night October 12, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Attorney Rex Butler brought Lee Chee Chang into the Anchorage Police Department Wednesday night, October 12, 2011. Chang was charged with first-degree murder in the shootings at JJ's Lounge.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News

Police arrested a 25-year-old Anchorage man late Wednesday night, charging him with first-degree murder in the ongoing investigation into a deadly shootout outside an East Anchorage bar.

Detectives had been searching for Lee Chee Chang throughout the day, describing Chang as a "person of interest" in the melee that left two dead Monday along Muldoon Road. Accompanied by defense lawyer Rex Butler, Chang surrendered to detectives at about 9:15 p.m. at police headquarters.

Police say Chang shot Emelio Ramirez, 35, at point-blank range as Ramirez lay on the pavement parking lot of J.J.'s Lounge. The other man killed that night was Chang's older brother, 28-year-old Ka Meng Chang, Butler said.

Police have not said who they believe shot and killed Ka Meng Chang.

Ramirez's body was found just outside the glass door of the normally quiet east-side bar. Lee Chang stood over Ramirez and shot him, police say. Ka Meng Chang's body was found yards away in the southbound lane of Muldoon Road.

Butler said his client did the right thing turning himself in to end the manhunt. "Obviously somebody has fingered this young man, but that doesn't make the accusation true," Butler said.

Two others were injured in the shootings.

Homicide detectives have released few details about the events leading up to the shootings. One day into the investigation, a police spokesman said detectives were looking for multiple shooters but declined to say how many.

Just hours after the Monday shootings, police had arrested 29-year-old Vang Chang, who is accused of trying to help Lee Chee Chang hide a handgun. Vang Chang appeared in court Tuesday for his arraignment on charges for weapons misconduct, assault and evidence tampering.

On Wednesday, police arrested yet another man they say is connected to the shootings. Ryan Laulu, 31 and a convicted felon, took a handgun from Ramirez outside the bar and left before any shots were fired, police said.

Police caught up with Laulu early Wednesday.

According to a charging document filed in court, witnesses reported seeing "an associate" of Ramirez arrive at the bar, then leave in a black car. Minutes later, Ramirez was dead.

Homicide detectives found Ramirez's mobile phone and looked through its text messages and recent calls, the court papers say. Their investigation of the phone showed that Ramirez called Laulu at 11:54 p.m. Sunday, and Laulu made a return call to Ramirez about 10 minutes later. Laulu sent Ramirez a text at 12:10 a.m. Monday -- six minutes before the first 911 calls reported the gunshots -- saying "im outside aint got my id," according to the charging document.

In an early morning interview with police Wednesday, Laulu admitted going to the bar at Ramirez's request and sending the text about not having his identification, according to the document.

"Laulu told detectives that Ramirez came out of the bar and handed him something that he quickly realized was a revolver," the court papers say.

Laulu said he then left with the gun in a black Infiniti sedan.

Lualu -- also known as Leo Silva or "Psycho," according to federal court records -- has a prior felony conviction for a cocaine conspiracy. Detectives arrested him for weapons misconduct for possessing the gun as a felon, police said. His arrest came before 5 a.m. Wednesday, said police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker.

Detectives know where Lualu was at the time of the shooting, but they aren't releasing that bit of information, Parker said.

"He was peripheral to the shooting, but he turned out to be a person who had a probationary period where he could not posses a firearm," Parker said. "Any other involvement he may have had in the shooting will have to wait until the investigation is finished. And he may not have had any involvement in the shooting."

Homicide detectives on Wednesday were not releasing information about whether or not the gun Laulu took from Ramirez was used in the shootings, nor would they say if they believe Ramirez shot Ka Meng Chang, Parker said.

Police on Tuesday and Wednesday said they were looking for Lee Chee Chang, who they described as a relative of Ka Meng Chang.

By about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Lee Chee Chang had surfaced at Butler's downtown office. Butler said he dialed 911 and told a dispatcher that Lee Chee Chang -- the "person of interest" in the shooting -- was with him.

Over the next hour, Butler continued to talk on the phone with police as Chang listened. He wore shorts and untied sneakers, his hands in the pockets of a hooded sweatshirt.

The lawyer arranged for Chang to go to the police department, where detectives said they did not yet have a warrant for his arrest. Homicide unit chief Slav Markiewicz met Chang at department headquarters, and Butler told him Chang would not be making any statements to police.

About an hour later, a police spokesman said detectives had received a warrant for Chang's arrest and were charging him with murder.

No charges have been filed in the death of Chang's brother, Ka Meng Chang.

Reach Kyle Hopkins at khopkins@adn.com. Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4589.

Photos: Lee Chee Chang
2 dead
By KYLE HOPKINS and CASEY GROVE
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