Crime & Courts

Neighbors say there were signs of trouble at Mountain View apartment long before woman found dead, man critically injured

A woman was found dead and a man critically injured inside a Mountain View apartment Saturday night.

The Anchorage Police Department has not released the names of the people, or any official information about what is believed to have happened.

But the victims' next-door neighbors said there were signs of trouble in the apartment long before violence erupted Saturday night.

Mai Vang had just gotten out of the shower on Saturday night when she heard two loud bangs through the thin wall of her apartment, where she lives with her husband, four children and other family members.

Gunshots were coming from the next-door apartment, where a man and woman who often fought lived with a teenage boy.

Vang's mother ran outside first to see what was happening, she said. Vang followed.

The door to the Apartment No. 2 was open.


[Two bodies found along Ship Creek trail]

A woman was on the floor near the doorway, bleeding from what looked like a wound in her chest, Vang said. A teenage boy was kneeling near the wounded woman.

"I thought at first they were both dead," Vang said. "The woman started moving. The man raised his hand, like telling me to help."

Vang was shaking.

"There was blood all over," Vang said. "That's when the son — 13 or 14 — he's like, 'Mom, wake up! Call 911!"

She did.

Police were called to the apartment on Richmond Avenue at 10:29 p.m. on Saturday, according to APD spokeswoman Renee Oistad.

The woman was declared dead at the scene. The man was taken to a local hospital with injuries police described as "life threatening."

Police have not said whether they believe the shootings were an attempted murder and suicide or whether someone else was involved.

But police say they aren't seeking any other suspects, and "believe they have made contact with all involved parties."

It's also not clear whether there was anyone else inside the apartment at the time.

Reid Hayes, who lives in a house next door to the complex, heard the shots and watched police arrive. One officer carried a boy who looked like a young teenager on his back, Hayes said. The boy was shoeless and in pajamas in the rain, he said.

Vang and her family, including four children, have lived in their basement apartment at the McKay Villa complex for about two years. Their next-door neighbors, like most of the families who lived there, were Hmong.

Vang and her husband Xeng Lee slept a wall away from their neighbors. Sometimes, early in the morning, they would hear the two arguing about money  in Hmong. The man would sometimes sleep in his car.

"I kind of knew one of these days something was going to happen," Lee said. "I didn't know it would be this."

On Saturday night, Lee had an uneasy encounter with the male neighbor who his wife would see bleeding on the floor of the apartment a few hours later.

Lee was working at Mountain View's Red Apple grocery store a few blocks away from Richmond Avenue. He recognized his next-door neighbor in his checkout lane. He can't remember what the guy was buying, but it was a single item. The man seemed enraged, Lee said.


After the man paid, Lee took a cigarette break.

Standing outside, Lee said he saw the man jump into a car and swerve off.

"I thought, that guy is up to something," Lee said.

It wasn't until morning when police were combing through the crime scene that an officer pointed out that a bullet had come through the wall of their kitchen.

At the time the shooting happened, their 13-year-old daughter, Phoebe Lee, had been preparing a bottle for the baby, 4-month-old Kim Lee, in the kitchen. Neither were hurt.

A small bullet hole remained on Sunday afternoon. Police recovered the bullet underneath the refrigerator, Vang said.

On Sunday afternoon, people were moving things out of the apartment where the shooting happened. They didn't want to talk to news media.

Vang and Lee wonder who will move in. Traditional Hmong beliefs hold that malevolent spirits might persist  in a place where a violent death has occurred.

If a Hmong family moves into the apartment, they will want a traditional cleansing, Lee said.