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Man shot dead in street near Valley of the Moon Park

A man was charged with murder Tuesday in the fatal shooting of another man near downtown Anchorage, causing the closure of two nearby schools for the day and drawing a heavy police response in a neighborhood that's now seen three killings in three weeks.

Tommy Rumph, 31, was taken into custody around 8:15 a.m., two hours after 6:15 a.m. reports of the shooting at 15th Avenue and E Street — about two blocks north of Valley of the Moon Park. Police arrived to find 30-year-old Treavonne Owens dead of "multiple gunshot wounds" in the street.

Police said the two men, who knew each other prior to the shooting, had gotten into an altercation that escalated into violence. Rumph fled the scene on foot following the shooting, triggering the manhunt and a request for the public's help.

The Anchorage School District closed Central Middle and Chugach Optional schools for the day soon after the shooting, busing students who had already arrived to West High School for pickup by their parents.

In a Facebook Live video posted on an account under Rumph's name at 6:30 a.m., a man walking outdoors in apparent early morning darkness addressed a camera. In a profanity-laced and sometimes difficult-to-understand monologue, he said he now faces "20 to life."

"This (expletive) was brought to my home," the man said. "I know I'm going to be gone — I ain't gonna get to see my son born."

Anchorage police investigated a fatal shooting near 15th Avenue and E Street early Tuesday. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

Tom Begich, who lives in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred, said a duplex home near 15th Avenue and E Street was cordoned off with crime-scene tape Tuesday. Begich said it was one of the area's relatively few rental properties.

“It’s had various residents over the years; it’s not one of the permanent home-owned residences,” Begich said. “Occasionally there’d be people hanging out there — nothing that ever caused me concern.”

 

A history with the law

After being questioned by police Tuesday, Rumph was ultimately charged with one count each of first- and second-degree murder, along with third-degree misconduct involving a weapon and fourth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance.

Rumph had encountered police before — he violated his probation four times in a case where he was accused of violently assaulting a woman in 2013, court records show.

Rumph was intoxicated when he went to the house of a woman he was dating in January of that year, according to a complaint in the case. There, he punched her in the head and pointed a Glock handgun at her, told her "he'd kill her," and choked her until her vision went black, according to court documents.

Rumph eventually pleaded guilty to a single felony charge of second-degree assault in the case.

After he'd served his prison sentence, court records suggest he had trouble following the rules of probation, twice testing positive for cocaine.

"The defendant clearly has issues with substance abuse and violence," the probation officer wrote.

According to a fourth petition to revoke probation in the case, Rumph had out-of-state convictions for distribution of cocaine, family violence, battery and cruelty to children between 2007-2012. Public records also list addresses for Rumph in Georgia.

On Aug. 26, Rumph wrote on Facebook he and Owens were hanging out together after work. The two men worked at Glacier Brewhouse together, according to friends of Owens and Rumph's Facebook page.

In comments on a Sunday Facebook post, Rumph seemed to say he was trying to put his past behind him.

"Jail was my problem," he wrote in a Facebook comment on Sept. 11. "Way past that now though."

'He wasn't a bad guy'

Owens, the man shot Tuesday morning, grew up in Anchorage, according to friends.

He was "a respected person" with a wide circle of friends, said Rico Gillespie, an Anchorage rapper who said he'd been a friend of Owens' since elementary school.

On Tuesday, Gillespie said he didn't know how Owens and Rumph knew each other.

"Nobody knows this guy," Gillespie said, referring to Rumph. "But (Owens) was a very open-arms person in terms of taking people in."

Owens had been in the news before. In 2006, he was involved in a high-profile Election Day gun battle on Northern Lights Boulevard in which two people were injured, including a campaign volunteer for former Gov. Frank Murkowski who was caught in the crossfire.

Owens ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge in that case.

Recently, Owens had been pursuing his longtime love of music, Gillespie said.

"We talked about music a lot," Gillespie said. "He wanted to be able to tell his story and reach people through his music."

Katrina Camp said she met Owens at a mall four years ago. They became friends, and she said he inspired her to return to church after a dark period in her life.

"I just want people to know he wasn't a bad guy," she said. "He loved his mama, he loved his kids."

Owens was the father of two daughters and a son, said Amanda Peterson, a longtime friend of Owens who is now in law school. They met while they were both working at IHOP, where he was a line cook and then a lead cook, known for his "leadership in the kitchen, speed and for making everyone laugh," she wrote in an email.

Owens had pursued his own education, Peterson said.

"While he was in jail in 2012-2013 he took every class available to him, finally earning his high school diploma," she wrote.

He'd also taken classes at the University of Alaska Anchorage with plans to complete the culinary program there. This spring, Peterson had helped edit an autobiographical essay Owens wrote for a UAA course that described a difficult childhood.

When he died, Owens was working at both the Brewhouse and Chili's Bar & Grill, Peterson said.

A neighborhood on edge

Tuesday's shooting came in a neighborhood already on edge about crime.

The Aug. 28 shooting deaths in Valley of the Moon Park of two people — 25-year-old Bryant "Brie" DeHusson and 34-year-old Kevin Turner — are being investigated as a double homicide. Earlier this month, nearby residents gathered at the park to question Mayor Ethan Berkowitz about the area's safety after sending him a letter seeking greater responsiveness to local crimes.

Police responded rapidly to the area Tuesday, fanning out to question residents and advise them of the shooting — an approach that drew high praise from Begich.

Anchorage Police Chief Chris Tolley attributed the rapid resolution of the search for Rumph and the school closures to coordination between Anchorage Police Department and Anchorage School District officials, as well as the public heeding police requests to avoid the area.

"Fortunately we were able to resolve this rather quickly," Tolley said.

Anchorage police investigated a fatal shooting near 15th Avenue and E Street early Tuesday. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

"The city's recognized that this is going on, so they were very quick to arrive on the scene and very quick to capture a suspect," Begich said. "I think that's a sign of pretty good police work."

Tuesday's death marks the city's 26th homicide case of the year.

Alaska Dispatch News reporter Nathaniel Herz contributed to this report. 

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