Crime & Courts

Family struggles from afar with shock of fatal police shooting in Anchorage

The mysterious journey that brought Charles McBride to an armed confrontation with Anchorage police officers last week is consuming his sister back in Washington, D.C.

His time in Anchorage wasn't without trouble even before the end.

The last Denise McBride saw of her younger brother was at their mother's funeral in July 2013. For the past few years, she had lost track of him. She was thinking that when the new year began, she would file a missing person report.

Then came the shock. Police officers found her at a neighbor's apartment in her building to deliver the news. Her brother had been shot and killed by Anchorage police.

None of it makes sense. She can't imagine that he had a gun, that he was violent or even that he would have moved this far north, which to Denise McBride seems about the same as Antarctica.

"What in the world was he doing in Alaska?" she asked. She questions the very premise of what happened the night of Dec. 20, though a nearby security camera at one of the homes in her brother's complex captured the whole scene. He lived in Loussac Place, a complex of 120 town homes just south of Chester Creek near Midtown.

"My brother do not carry no gun," she said in one of several phone interviews. "He was a nice person. A nice person!"


Police said it was about 9:50 p.m. when a man stepped out of his garage, then used a handgun to break a neighbor's window, though the security video indicates that happened somewhat earlier.

A bit later, he came back and threw a snowball at the neighbor's place.

[APD: Officer shot and killed man who opened fire on neighbors]

Around 11:18 p.m., the same man fired a handgun at the neighbor and a maintenance worker, who was standing in the open. The maintenance man beelined for the door to the neighbor's place and the resident came in with him. At 11:20 p.m., someone called police, who began staging in the area.

More shots were fired.

And at 11:54 p.m., the situation erupted once more. The garage door at the man's home opened again. Officers stepped from the side of the complex to the front. He fired, the video showed. Then a lone officer shot back.

The man dropped to the ground, then crawled into his garage.

The man was Charles McBride, 56. The officer who fired was Daniel Otte, who has been on the Anchorage force three years, police said.

In standoffs, police bring in negotiators trained to work with those in emotional crisis, said MJ Thim, Anchorage police spokesman. But in last week's shooting, he said, there wasn't time.

McBride grew up in New York City and Alexandria, Virginia, his sister said. When Charles was 5 years old, he was hit by a car in New York City, she said. He suffered a head injury and never was the same, she said. He suffered from mental illness too, his sister said.

He liked to paint, both for art and sometimes for work as a house painter, she said. He had three children, she said. He liked to dance, party and smoke marijuana, she said.

Then he slipped out of sight.

A man named Charles McBride who gave his residential address as Bean's Cafe, a soup kitchen, registered to vote in Alaska in September 2014.

By 2015, McBride was living at the Alaskan Youth Hostel, a retrofitted Greek-style manor in Spenard that used to be the home of strip mall developer Peter Zamarello.

McBride lived there twice for four or five months at a time, said Jerry Rhodes, a hostel manager. McBride received disability benefits, liked to play online video games on his desktop computer and went off premises to smoke marijuana, Rhodes said.

He was easygoing and for the most part was liked, though there were occasional arguments, Rhodes said. The hostel attracts an older crowd who make it their home.

One day, McBride and another resident got into a physical fight over a bicycle that someone had left behind, Rhodes said. Police were called. The other man ended up with the bike.


Another manager found out that McBride had a gun, which was against hostel rules. That manager went to court in June 2016 seeking a protective order to keep McBride away from him and his family. That manager said McBride had "physically assaulted multiple clients at my establishment."

McBride was kicked out of the hostel and ended up at the Brother Francis Shelter, Rhodes said. Then, with help from a housing agency, he moved into Loussac Place, Rhodes said.

His across-the-street neighbor, Young Chung, said he never once saw him but heard late-night comings and goings. Another neighbor said he seemed off, not someone you could talk to. Sometimes he would laugh maniacally into the night so loudly that he kept those several doors down awake.

On Wednesday, broken glass shards dotted the area in front of his neighbor's home. There was new glass in the window. In his driveway, an overstuffed chair sat on its side.

His sister is still trying to understand what happened. She doesn't trust the police's version of the story. The family is African-American. One of Charles McBride's daughters fainted to the ground when she learned of the shooting.

Denise McBride said she expects the city of Anchorage to send her brother's body home.

Charles McBride is the fourth person shot and the second shot and killed this year by Anchorage police. Since his death, Alaska State Troopers shot and injured a man near Soldotna and, on Christmas Eve, Fairbanks police and troopers shot and killed a man.

Lisa Demer

Lisa Demer was a longtime reporter for the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Dispatch News. Among her many assignments, she spent three years based in Bethel as the newspaper's western Alaska correspondent. She left the ADN in 2018.