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Crime & Courts

Royal Suite fire deemed arson and homicide; police seek person of interest

Anchorage police said Wednesday they are treating the deadly Spenard apartment house fire last month as an arson and homicide and have asked the public's help in finding a "person of interest" they want to interview.

The fire, which destroyed one of two buildings in the Royal Suite Apartments complex near the intersection of Minnesota Drive and Spenard Road on Feb. 15, killed three residents and injured or displaced dozens more.

Police said Wednesday afternoon that they were seeking 28-year-old Andrew John Eknaty.

"Police believe (Eknaty) has information regarding this crime and would like to speak to him," police spokeswoman Renee Oistad wrote.

Anchorage police say Andrew John Eknaty, 28, is a “person of interest” in the deadly Royal Suite Apartments fire on Feb. 15, and they are seeking the public’s help in finding him. (Anchorage Police Department photo)

Vivian Hall, 63, Teuaililo Nua, 38, and Laura Kramer, 70, died of injuries from the fire or the evacuation of the building. More than a dozen others were hurt, and the Red Cross assisted more than 30 displaced tenants.

Police do not believe Eknaty was living in the apartment building, Oistad said.

But an arrest warrant issued in May 2015 — when Eknaty violated his probation conditions in a 2013 domestic violence assault case — listed Eknaty's last known location as "Royal Suite Lodge" Room 101.

Oistad declined to say Wednesday whether Eknaty was a suspect or to elaborate on why police wish to speak with him. She said that publicly stating why officers sought him would reveal investigative details that the police department was not ready to release.

"That's the only person we're asking the public's help to find," Oistad said.

As of early evening, police were continuing to look for Eknaty.

Anyone with information on Eknaty's whereabouts is asked to call police at 907-786-8900, or contact Crime Stoppers at 907-561-STOP or through its website.

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