Man killed in officer-involved shooting outside grocery

Casey Grove
Erik Hill

Anchorage police shot and killed a man in a vehicle late Friday outside a supermarket on Gambell Street, police said.

Police spokespersons disclosed few details Saturday about what happened, other than saying there had been a handgun in the man's vehicle.

Chief Mark Mew, taking questions from reporters by phone Saturday morning, gave no explanation for the officers' actions.

"The circumstances of how that shooting occurred are still under investigation. I don't know all the answers yet," Mew said.

In a written statement Saturday afternoon, police identified the dead man as Detlef Wulf, 27.

According to an earlier written statement, a police spokeswoman said a security guard at the Carrs at Gambell Street and 13th Avenue called police about a man slumped over the wheel of a vehicle outside, possibly intoxicated. The vehicle, which Mew said he believed as a red Ford Explorer, was parked on the Gambell Street side of the store.

That initial call came in at 10:05 p.m., said Mew, who reviewed a log of the police call.

"There's some comments (in the call report) that indicate the guard couldn't wake the person up," Mew said.

Two police officers came to the store. Shortly thereafter, they told dispatchers to designate the call a "10-44," indicating they were dealing with an emergency and needed additional officers, Mew said. Next came a report of shots fired, the police chief said.

The officers fired on Wulf, who died at the scene, police said. A third officer arrived just after the shooting, Mew said.

"What happens in those intermediate seconds, of course, is the focus of the investigation," Mew said.

Mew refused to say if anyone else was in the vehicle and provided no further details. The names of the officers have not been released. The state Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals will conduct an inquiry to determine if the shooting was legally justified, and the police department will conduct its own internal review to see if the officers' actions followed department policy.

Mew acknowledged that the department has been able to release more details about the circumstances of other officer-involved shootings. But the police chief said Saturday he was not ready yet to talk about what led up to the shooting Friday night.

"We have a bunch of evidence to process. We have a bunch of interviews to conduct," Mew said. "We want to be confident that our information is correct before we release it."