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A 15-year-old girl died after being shot in an apartment in Anchorage's Mountain View neighborhood early Tuesday morning, police said.
According to accounts from witnesses and family members, the girl, identified by family members as Precious Alex, was sleeping in a basement apartment in the 600 block of North Flower Street when multiple gunshots pierced the window.
Quentin Hargrove, who said he is engaged to Alex's mother, DeMetra, was in the room next door when the shots rang out. He said he ran into the bedroom and found the girl wounded.
Someone called 911, and Hargrove held the girl and tried to keep her awake until the ambulance arrived, he said.
"She died in my arms," Hargrove said, tearfully. "She was in her bed and they just shot through the window."
The girl was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead an hour later, Anchorage police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said.
Castro said the details of the incident are still under investigation, and no arrests had been made. She said police weren't releasing any details of the shooting at this time, and wouldn't confirm those described by family members and witnesses.
Early Tuesday afternoon, yellow tape closed off the street as police continued to interview witnesses and piece together what had happened. Family members, friends and neighbors stood nearby, hugging one another.
Police said they were withholding the victim's name because she is a juvenile. But her grandmother, Dana Sweatt, said Alex was an honor roll student with a 3.8 GPA who loved her iPhone.'
"She loved taking pictures," Sweatt said.
Sweatt said that until about four months ago, Alex was living with her in Fairbanks, attending Lathrop High School and working at KFC.
After Christmas, Alex visited her mother in Anchorage, Sweatt said. The teen then decided to stay at the Mountain View apartment through the completion of her SBAs, Alaska's state standardized tests, and take classes at Nine Star Enterprises, Sweatt said.
On Thursday, after finishing her tests, Alex was supposed to return to Fairbanks, Sweatt said. But at 4 a.m., Sweatt said, she got the call at her home in Fairbanks that her granddaughter had been killed. Sweatt boarded the first flight to Anchorage.
Venetia Califf, 54, lives in an apartment in the building next door on North Flower Street. She was half-asleep when five gunshots sliced through the air, she said, startling her awake. A friend who was visiting the apartment "hit the floor," Califf said. They stayed inside the house, afraid to move.
Just last week, Califf said, she and her fiance, Kurtis Lanum, heard gunshots in the neighborhood.
"Since I've been here, it's always been, just in this general area right here, gunshots, gunshots, gunshots," Lanum said. Califf said she's now afraid to walk down the street by herself.
Califf said she remembered seeing Alex from time to time, getting the mail or leaving the building. The girl always seemed to be smiling, she said.
"All I know is she was a sweetheart," Califf said, clutching a tissue in her hand and dabbing her eyes. "I saw her coming and going. I never saw a sad face."
In her grandmother's iPhone, Alex had entered herself as "Baby Precious," with a heart emoticon. She would have been 16 on Mother's Day, Sweatt said.
This will be the family's second burial in less than a year. Last June, Alex's 20-year-old cousin, Citari Townes-Sweatt, was killed by an alleged drunken driver on Boniface Parkway in East Anchorage.
The driver accused of killing Citari, 23-year-old Airman Lane Wyatt, faces murder, drunken driving and assault charges in a case scheduled to go to trial in May.
"So now this is my granddaughter," said Sweatt, looking down. "This is just so...this is so stupid. It's so, so dumb. Senseless."
Reach Devin Kelly at email@example.com or 257-4314.
By DEVIN KELLY