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Crime & Courts

Suspect arrested after man shot and killed in Anchorage apartment

  • Author: Nathaniel Herz
  • Updated: October 12, 2017
  • Published October 11, 2017

Anchorage police investigate the scene of a fatal shooting in Spenard on Wednesday morning. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)

Anchorage police say they've arrested a suspect who admitted shooting and killing a man during an early morning argument Wednesday, with the victim's body discovered in a Spenard apartment that neighbors said has long been a hub of suspicious activity.

Anthony Aumua (Provided by APD)

The shooting took place in the living room of a second-floor unit and had multiple witnesses, said police spokesman MJ Thim. But when interviewed, their stories were so inconsistent that by the afternoon, authorities still hadn't named a suspect. However, they had identified 34-year-old Anthony Aumua, an Anchorage man with a record of drug convictions who police considered to be armed and dangerous, as a "person of interest" wanted for questioning.

By 5:30 p.m., dispatchers received a tip from a person who said Aumua — whom the tipster recognized from a police alert — walked into the ACF Church in Eagle River, according to a statement from police. Officers from multiple units responded to the church, set up a perimeter and evacuated the building, police said. After Aumua peacefully exited the church, he was taken into custody and transported to police headquarters for questioning, according to the statement.

"Anthony Aumua has admitted to shooting and killing the adult male inside the apartment this morning," police said.

He faces multiple charges, including first-degree murder.

Anchorage Police Sgt. Mark Bakken investigates the scene of a fatal shooting in Spenard on Wednesday morning. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)

The apartment where the shooting occurred is part of a long, two-story complex on West 29th Place near the intersection of Arctic and Benson boulevards. Authorities weren't releasing the identity of the victim, who they said had been shot multiple times, saying they needed to inform the man's family first. Thim wouldn't say whether the victim lived in the apartment.

Neighbors — some of whom stood on the porch of a next-door complex waiting for a peek when police removed the victim's body — described the shooting as the culmination of months of what appeared to be drug-related activity connected to the second-floor apartment.

Forty-one-year-old Yvette Jackson said that in the past, she'd seen people standing outside the apartment wearing bulletproof vests and "flashing their guns." When police would show up to the door, people inside would sometimes escape by jumping out a back window, she added.

"It's a drug house. We see people go there every day to get drugs, and leave," Jackson said. While there had been previous police visits to the apartment that hadn't seemed to stop the activity there, Jackson added, "now they're going to have to do something because there's a dead body in there."

Yvette Jackson and Crystal Nelson watch as police investigate a fatal shooting in Spenard on Wednesday morning. Jackson, who lives in an apartment building next door, said she heard screaming and came out to see what was going on. Nelson said she lives on the bottom floor of the building where the shooting occurred. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)

Police wouldn't say if they'd been called to the apartment before, citing a state law that bars them from releasing victim and witness addresses.

But the new manager of the complex, Dorthy Bates, said she was in court Wednesday morning — less than 12 hours after the shooting — for a previously scheduled hearing in eviction proceedings against the apartment's tenants, who Bates said hadn't paid rent for September.

Bates, who's only been managing the complex for two months, said she'd gotten rid of the tenants at an adjacent apartment, but they'd since moved into the unit — No. 11 — where the shooting happened. She and Jackson both described problems connected with people from the apartment who had been squatting in the laundry room.

"There's so much traffic coming and going — there'd be a car pull up, (people would) run up and leave right away," Bates said. "I've been observing this, and I've been observing what the tenants are observing."

Wednesday's homicide was Anchorage's 30th of the year, according to police. The killing kept the city on track to surpass last year's record total of 34 homicides.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the Anchorage neighborhood of the apartment. It is Spenard, not Midtown. 

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