An Anchorage-based soldier told police he shot his wife in East Anchorage late Wednesday, about two months after the Army says he returned from Afghanistan, because she had social services take custody of their toddler, police said.
The alleged killer, 24-year-old Army Spc. David Lopez, later tried to grab a police officer's gun while in police custody, saying he wanted the officer to shoot him, according to a charging document filed in court Thursday. Instead, Lopez was jailed on charges of murdering his wife, Sara Lopez, as well as resisting arrest and terroristic threatening. The last charge is for menacing comments he allegedly made to the staff at the state Office of Children's Services hours before the shooting, when the episode was just beginning to unfold.
According to the charging document, Anchorage police responded to the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson hospital about 2:45 p.m. Wednesday after receiving reports of child abuse within the Lopez family. OCS staff took custody of Lopez's 2-year-old daughter but officers did not find Lopez at the hospital, the charges say.
It's unclear from the charges whether Lopez is believed to have abused the girl. As of Thursday, no charges had been filed against him for child abuse.
At about 7:10 p.m., OCS staff called police, saying Lopez had called and threatened to shoot "everyone there" if they did not return his daughter, according to the charges.
"He explained that he was an angry person with a bad temper," the charges say.
Lopez called 911 about 20 minutes later and told a dispatcher he thought he had just shot his wife, police said. Officers rushed to an apartment in a building at 140 Oklahoma St., said police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker. The apartments are just south of the Glenn Highway between Turpin Street and Muldoon Road.
"The victim was still alive when the officers arrived but was in grave condition," Parker said. "The medics arrived and later declared her deceased."
Sara Lopez had been shot in the head, the charges say. Officers took David Lopez into custody while crime scene investigators scoured the apartment, Parker said.
"The officers who responded to the crime scene on Oklahoma Street reported seeing many firearms throughout the residence, including an AK-47-style rifle," the charges say.
While at Anchorage Police Department headquarters, Lopez "attempted to take a firearm from an officer, asking the officer to shoot him," the charges say. He later told investigators he had killed his wife, according to the charges. It was not until about 2 a.m. Thursday that police charged Lopez with murder.
"They were there pretty much through the night, our CSI guys," Parker said. "It wasn't until 2 o'clock in the morning until they had what they thought they needed to charge the guy."
Lopez appeared in court Thursday afternoon to hear the charges against him. Corrections officers brought the stocky Lopez into the courtroom separate from other inmates. Lopez was quiet while answering questions from a judge, who asked Lopez about his finances in regards to appointing a public defender. Lopez's bail was set at $500,000 cash with a third-party custodian requirement.
According to an Army spokesman, Lopez is originally from Rochester, N.Y., and joined the Army in November 2009, later becoming an infantryman with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. Lopez was assigned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in October 2010 and deployed to Afghanistan from December 2011 to October 2012, the Army said.
Reach Casey Grove at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4589.
By CASEY GROVE