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Man killed by officers pointed handgun, police say; officers ID'd

Lisa Demer
Erik Hill

UPDATE: The Anchorage Police Department on Tuesday identified the officers involved in the shooting death of Detlef Wulf. They are Officer Christopher Alexander and Officer Michael Farr. Both have been on the Anchorage police force since November 2007.

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ORIGINAL STORY:

The man shot and killed by police Friday night in the parking lot of the Carrs Quality Center on Gambell Street had a semi-automatic pistol, ignored an order to put up his hands, and pointed the gun at one of the two officers at the scene, Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew said Monday.

Both officers then fired at the man, identified by police as Detlef Wulf. He died there, Mew said.

Wulf, who would have turned 28 on Tuesday, also had a long history of trouble with police, including felony convictions for assault and burglary, court records show.

Mew provided reporters with a brief account of the events leading up to the police shooting, the third so far this year by Anchorage police and the second in which someone was killed.

A Carrs security guard called police about a man slumped over the wheel of a vehicle parked outside, "unconscious, probably a drunk driver," Mew said. The security guard had knocked on the window repeatedly but couldn't rouse the man, Mew said. The call came in at 10:05 p.m., police said earlier.

Two patrol officers went to Carrs, boxing in the vehicle from the front and back with their patrol cars to prevent the driver from taking off, Mew said. The vehicle was a Ford SUV -- Mew wasn't sure of the model.

"The officers approached the vehicle, rapped on the window, observed that the person inside the vehicle had a handgun, a semi-automatic handgun," Mew told reporters.

Mew said he was told the gun was in the man's lap but said a recording also references it being in the man's coat.

At any rate, Mew said, "things went very fast from there."

"They hollered at the person behind the wheel, who we now know to be Mr. Wulf, to put his hands up," Mew said. "He didn't do that. Instead, he grabs the gun, produces it, opens the door, leans out, points it over his shoulder at the officers," particularly the one closest to him.

The two officers then immediately fired, a total of five shots of which most, if not all, hit Wulf, Mew said. "It went down within a couple of seconds, I think."

The officers' names will be released Tuesday, Mew said. He didn't yet know how long either had been on the police force.

They had good visibility in the parking lot. Both officers had left their car headlights on and turned on their flashing lights. Wulf would have been able to see the police lights and uniforms, Mew said. That stretch of town, at 13th and Gambell, is a "high volume area" for police calls, the chief said.

Wulf's troubles stretched back to at least 2002, when he was convicted of repeat underage consumption of alcohol, according to a listing of convictions in a later court case. Most of the convictions on his record are misdemeanors: drunken driving, trespass, resisting arrest and a number of vehicle tampering cases. There's a recurring thread of alcohol abuse.

DRUNKEN CRIMES

Officers didn't know his history when they encountered him in the Carrs parking lot. While they ran the Ford SUV's tags, it wasn't registered to him, Mew said. There's no evidence it was stolen, police spokeswoman Dani Myren said later.

In May of 2004, he was pulled over at 13th and Gambell, drunk and driving an SUV that police later determined was stolen.

He had just pleaded no contest to DUI and attempted vehicle theft in that case when in June 2004, Wulf broke into a home in East Anchorage as the residents slept, according to another criminal complaint. One awoke to find Wulf standing over him with a rifle over one shoulder and another in his hand. The resident grabbed one rifle and called for his brother, who grabbed the other. The brothers corralled him in the bathroom and held him there until police arrived. Police gave him a breath test, and he registered .252, the complaint said. That's more than three times the current legal limit of alcohol for driving. He passed out in the police car, and, while comatose, threw up, the complaint said.

He pleaded no contest to burglary and was sentenced to nine months in jail.

One day in June 2007, he started drinking 40 ounce beers in the morning and by nighttime, was walking around Mountain View with friends looking for somewhere to drink, he later told police. Another man, whom he didn't know, seemed to taunt him, he said. Wulf hit him in the jaw, according to a complaint in that case.

One witness was crying when he told police that Wulf had punched the victim with an old rusty piece of steel wrapped in a blue bandana. But Wulf said his hand was wrapped around a lighter to protect his knuckles. Wulf told police he had a drinking problem and after that night had started going to Alcoholics Anonymous.

The victim was knocked unconscious, spent almost 10 days in a coma and then a month in a rehabilitation center, according to court notes from a restitution hearing. He had to relearn how to walk.

Wulf pleaded no contest to third-degree assault and in January 2008 was sentenced to five years in prison.

By February 2011, he had been through a treatment facility and was out on probation. But he was in and out of jail a number of times after that, according to the state Department of Corrections.

CONCERN OVER SHOOTINGS

Last year, Anchorage police were involved in five shootings, two of them fatal, the most that police believe have happened in a single year here, Mew said. Troopers were involved in eight shootings, also a high number, he said.

Mew said he spoke Sunday afternoon to state Public Safety Commissioner Joe Masters about the issue.

"We're both concerned," he said. "Is society getting more violent? Are our officers acting quicker? I don't know the answers to those questions yet."

Police, or private citizens, can use deadly force if they are in fear of "imminent physical injury or death," the police chief said.

Meanwhile, the rate of assaults on officers in Alaska has increased since 2002, according to a new report from the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center that Mew's office pointed to on Monday.

An investigation into Friday's shooting led by the state Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals continues, as does an internal review by APD.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 


By LISA DEMER
ldemer@adn.com
Contact Lisa Demer at LDemer@adn.com or on