The Anchorage man fatally shot by officers Tuesday evening outside a Home Depot store after an alleged robbery placed a 911 call expressing suicidal thoughts and threatening police officers just days before his death, police said.
Benjamin Zeckovic, 23, took hatchets and axes from the store near Northway Mall just before 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and assaulted a loss-prevention employee. When police units arrived, he threw some of the weapons at officers and then advanced on them wielding a hatchet, police said.
That's when two officers fired on Zeckovic, sending him to a hospital with injuries that ultimately proved fatal. Those officers won't be identified until four days after the shooting, in accordance with police policy.
"Zeckovic's next of kin have been notified," police wrote in a brief statement Wednesday. "The incident and fatal shooting remains under investigation."
Police were unwilling to immediately provide additional details about the shooting.
Court records show that Zeckovic had a run-in with police just three days before he died, in an incident that saw him charged with third-degree assault, second-degree theft and several counts of weapons misconduct. A warrant had been issued for his arrest.
According to a criminal complaint in that case filed by Anchorage police officer Mia Badillo, a man called 911 around 8:40 p.m. Saturday making "suicidal threats and death threats toward officers." The number was tentatively identified as belonging to Zeckovic, the complaint said.
"While on the phone with dispatch, he said he had a gun to his head, and made several statements threatening his own life, the lives of officers, and the dispatcher he was speaking with," Badillo wrote.
Officers were dispatched to an address the caller mentioned along Elm Street in Anchorage's Government Hill neighborhood. Once in the area, the officers on scene and the 911 dispatcher reported hearing six or seven shots fired, but they couldn't immediately locate the caller.
About two hours later, police received a report from a man who identified himself as Zeckovic's roommate. The roommate told police Zeckovic had called him and confessed to taking the roommate's gun and "firing towards police officers and not to worry," Badillo wrote.
During an interview at a police substation, the roommate told police he hadn't given Zeckovic permission to use his gun, and that Zeckovic had made death threats toward him, both verbally and via text message.
"(The roommate's) text messages were from the same phone number that was involved in the suicidal and homicidal threats from the earlier incident," the complaint said.
The roommate told police that he and his girlfriend were waiting for police to arrive when they walked toward her car, only to find Zeckovic leaning against it.
"They quickly turned around and ran away. As they ran, they heard Benjamin fire off between 6 to 10 shots," Badillo wrote.
In 2013, Zeckovic was sought by police in connection with a violent burglary along Boniface Parkway that prompted an alert to be issued for the University of Alaska Anchorage campus.
Zeckovic eventually pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary, a felony, and fourth-degree assault in that case.
Staff at the Home Depot on Wednesday referred questions regarding the robbery and shooting to national corporate representatives, who declined to comment due to the continuing investigation.
Corrrection: This story originally mistakenly identified Benjamin Zeckovic as Benjamin Zekovic.