Crime & Courts

Robbery suspect dies after being shot by police in East Anchorage

A robbery suspect was shot and killed Tuesday evening after responding officers defensively fired on the man, police said.

The shooting occurred behind the Home Depot store near Northway Mall in East Anchorage.

Officers responded to a robbery in progress at the store shortly before 6:30 p.m. The suspect shoplifted several items and assaulted a loss-prevention employee while armed with hatchets and axes, police said.

Police confronted the suspect behind the store. Anchorage Police Chief Chris Tolley late Tuesday described the suspect as a young white man and said police had not yet positively identified him.

The man ignored the officers' commands and threw some of the weapons at them, Tolley said.

Tolley also said during a Tuesday evening press conference that the man came at one of the officers with a hatchet. In response, two officers fired their weapons, he said. He did not say how many rounds were fired.

Neither of the officers was hurt. The suspect was transported to a hospital. At least one more weapon was retrieved from his body, but Tolley declined to describe it.


The suspect had a pulse when he arrived at the hospital, where staff tried for "quite a bit of time" to perform life-saving measures, Tolley said.

The shooting will be reviewed by the State Office of Special Prosecutions, which will determine if the use of force was justified. An Internal Affairs investigation will also determine if the officers' actions were within policy, according to police.

Officers remained on scene nearly three hours after the shooting.

As is the practice with all Anchorage police shootings, the officers involved have been placed on leave for four days. Their names will be released after that time.

"Once again we almost lost officers today along with civilians," the police chief said.

"Fortunately, we have a very strong and supportive community. Not only were officers' lives at risk tonight, (community members') lives were at risk. We're very fortunate that this is all the tragedy that happened," he said.

The last officer-involved shooting was exactly six months earlier. On Jan. 12, an officer responding to a report of a fight at an apartment in Spenard shot and killed a man.

Jerzy Shedlock

Jerzy Shedlock is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch News. He left the ADN in 2017.