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Crime & Courts

2 charged with murder in April shooting of Anchorage teen; 1 still at large

  • Author: Tegan Hanlon
  • Updated: September 18, 2017
  • Published September 18, 2017

Two people have been charged with murder in the April shooting death of 17-year-old Leroy Lawrence, according to Anchorage police.

Anthony Salazar, 16, was in custody Monday and the other suspect, 20-year-old Haitim Mahir Taha, remained at large, police said.

Haitim Mahir Taha, 20, is now a suspect in the investigation into the death of Leroy Lawrence on April 7. Anthony Salazar, 16, is in custody and has a hearing Monday. (Photo provided by APD)

According to the police department's preliminary investigation, Taha was driving a Chevrolet Monte Carlo on April 7 with Salazar in the passenger seat. They were following a Ford Escape with multiple people in it, police said.

The Ford Escape pulled over near the intersection of Irwin Street and Thompson Avenue in Mountain View. As people exited the Escape, Taha and Salazar drove by "and began shooting," police said.

Police said Lawrence, an East High School junior, happened to be walking  by on his way to a friend's house when he was hit by one of the bullets. He was taken to the hospital and died days later.

A person from the Escape was also shot. The person, whom police have not identified, was shot in the leg and taken to the hospital.

Salazar and Taha were charged last week in the shooting. Each faces several charges, including first-degree murder, second-degree murder and first-degree assault.

MJ Thim, police spokesman, said Salazar is being charged as an adult.

Catherine Esary, Anchorage School District spokeswoman, said that during the 2016-17 school year, Salazar was enrolled as a student at Benny Benson Secondary School, an alternative school for students who are behind in credit. He was not listed as a student in the school district this year, she said.

Salazar appeared in court Monday during a hearing that was not open to the public.

Outside the Nesbett Courthouse in Anchorage, Lawrence's father, Gene Lawrence, said his family was trying to figure out how to go on after his son's death. The charges brought the killing "back to forefront," he said. "It's back to a whirlwind."

Gene Lawrence, father of Leroy Lawrence, came to the Nesbett Courthouse on Monday to see the arraignment of Anthony Salazar, 16, who was charged in Leroy’s shooting death. Lawrence said he has mixed feeling since charges were filed. “I want to be happy but I’m sad for the kid and his family,” Lawrence said. (Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News)

Gene Lawrence wore a black sweatshirt to court Monday printed with his son's picture and the words "Pray For Better Days." He said he had "a lot of mixed emotions" that afternoon.

"I want to be happy but I'm sad for the kid and his family," he said. "I want to cheer but at the same time I want to cry because Leroy is gone."

Police are trying to find Taha and asked the public for help Monday. Police said Taha is 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs 180 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes.

Police asked anyone with information about Taha's whereabouts to call police dispatch at 907-786-8900 and press "0" to reach an operator. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 561-STOP or anchoragecrimestoppers.com.

Marc Lester contributed to this report.

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