Armed man in Anchorage Hillside standoff found dead in home

NOTE: This story is being updated in a new location. Find the most recent version here.


UPDATE: 3:30 a.m. Friday:

The armed 69-year-old Army veteran who had kept police at bay since about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday on the Anchorage Hillside was found dead in his home, police said in a statement at 3:18 a.m. Friday.

"The standoff between law enforcement and a shooting suspect at a residence on the 12000 block of Ginami Street has ended after law enforcement confirmed that the suspect, identified as 69-year-old Robert Musser, was deceased in his home. An investigation and autopsy will determine the cause and nature of Musser's death. The medical examiner will take custody of the body," the statement said.

Anchorage police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said in a follow-up email that there was no further gunfire at the scene of the standoff since just before 1 p.m. Thursday, when two officers were injured during a flurry of shots. Loud bangs heard around 8:30 p.m. Thursday were stun grenades, she said.

Ginami Street remained closed as an investigation into the standoff continued, police said.

No additional information about the circumstances surrounding Musser's death was immediately available from police.

Original story:

An armed 69-year-old man kept police at bay for a second day Thursday during a standoff on the upper Anchorage Hillside.

Two officers were injured in a flurry of gunfire during the day and by evening, the standoff continued with the man still holed up in his modified A-frame home, marked by broken picture windows that look down on the city and an American flag that flew over a back porch.

Police identified the man inside as Robert "Bob" Musser, an Army veteran whose home on Ginami Street is just below the road that winds up to the Flattop trailhead, a popular hiking spot for residents and tourists. The home remained surrounded by officers Thursday who tried to coax Musser into talking with them, occasionally launching percussion bombs onto his property, but mostly leaving him in silence.

The loud and bright stun grenades — police call them "flashbangs" — emitted sharp pops in spurts during the rainy Thursday. Around noon, there was gunfire. Musser opened fire on officers who fired back, according to Jennifer Castro, police spokeswoman. Two officers were injured by Musser's gunfire and were recovering Thursday evening, she said, but she declined to describe the officers' wounds or how they occurred.

Around 8:30 p.m. Thursday, there was again a series of loud bangs. Musser remained barricaded in his home. Police, Alaska State Troopers and FBI vehicles lined Upper Huffman Road. Part of Ginami Street remained blocked off. A few neighbors who lived close by said they planned to spend the night elsewhere, but many stuck around. They said the neighborhood is typically quiet, private and peaceful, with many homes on large lots.

Since Wednesday, the neighborhood had been at the center of the standoff. It started shortly after 9:30 a.m. Wednesday when two members of a Carlos Tree Service crew, clearing a utility easement for power lines in the area, told police Musser had approached them with a gun and opened fire.

Charging documents filed as a result of that encounter accused Musser of two felony counts of third-degree assault and three counts of weapons misconduct. A warrant was issued for his arrest.

According to the charging document, Musser told the tree-cutting crew to get off of his property. One of the men said Musser pointed a revolver at him before moving it to the side and firing. Musser fired twice more as the men retreated, the charges say.

Negotiators and the Anchorage Police Department's SWAT team responded to Musser's home Wednesday morning. When officers later prepared to deploy gas, Musser came outside and opened fire, Castro said.

The FBI arrived at the scene Thursday evening. The federal agency's assets had been tied up at another standoff in Midtown for much of the day; that standoff concluded around 3:30 p.m.

Allison Smith, 51, lives across the street from Musser and said that all through Wednesday officers attempted to talk with Musser, sounded alarms and then she heard nothing. Gas was used at least three times, according to Castro. Smith said it burned her eyes.

Smith was stuck inside her home for more than a day as the standoff continued — watching and waiting.

Smith said she knew Musser a little and he seemed friendly, but he kept piles of items stacked around his property, like junk appliances and cars. He had a car and a boat with shrubs growing around it "basically underneath the powerline," she said. She said she worried when she saw the tree-cutting crew getting closer to Musser's home earlier this week.

"I knew when I saw them clearing the powerline that Bob would not be happy," she said. "Every day they were getting closer and I was certain he would come unglued when they got to his lot."

Castro said Thursday that police were aware of "possible mental health issues" with Musser, and that he had recently suffered personal losses including the death of his mother and his dog. Police had responded by checking on his welfare in recent months, but when approached, Castro said Musser told officers he was doing fine.