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Crime & Courts

2 charged with evidence tampering as Anchorage police investigate fatal shooting of hotel employee

Anchorage police investigate a homicide early Thursday morning, Oct. 22, 2020 at the Chelsea Inn Hotel in Spenard. According to a police statement, officers responded to a report of shots fired late Wednesday night and found a deceased man inside the hotel. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

Update, 9 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28:

Anchorage police arrested two people they say contaminated or manipulated the crime scene at the Chelsea Inn Hotel following a fatal shooting last week.

Shanelle M. Macpherson, 34, was arrested on five charges of tampering with physical evidence, police wrote in an updated statement. Sean S. Smith, 48, was arrested on charges of misconduct involving a weapon and tampering with evidence. Police said Macpherson and Smith were arrested Monday.

“The investigation is ongoing and more arrests may be forthcoming,” police wrote.

Update,10:50 a.m. Friday, Oct. 23:

Anchorage police on Friday identified the man who was killed Wednesday night in a shooting at the Chelsea Inn Hotel as 48-year-old Duane Fields.

On Thursday, the hotel’s owner described the shooting victim as an employee who was trying to help others when he was shot. Fields appears to be the same man involved in a complaint dismissed by a federal judge earlier this year, and the dispute centered around whether Fields had followed quarantine instructions when he arrived in Anchorage after securing early release from a California prison hard hit by the coronavirus.

Original story:

Anchorage police said a man was killed in a hotel on Spenard Road on Wednesday night and they’re investigating it as a homicide.

Police said they received a report at 10:22 p.m. of shots fired and found a man dead inside the Chelsea Inn Hotel at 3836 Spenard Road. He had trauma to his upper body, police said.

Investigators “believe this is an isolated event and not random,” said police spokeswoman Renee Oistad.

Soo Seo, the owner of the Chelsea Inn Hotel, said a man came into the hotel Wednesday night and began to argue with another person in the lobby. Hotel staff tried to de-escalate the situation and Seo said the man left the building.

The man then returned with another person, Seo said, and shots were fired through a window into the lobby. He said one of his employees was struck by the gunfire and died.

Seo described the employee as “a nice guy, super honest” and said he was trying to help others when he was shot.

The shooter was unfamiliar to hotel employees, Seo said. By Thursday afternoon, things at the Chelsea Inn Hotel had calmed down, Seo said. What remained from the previous night’s violent outburst was a few broken windows and a hole in the wall, he said.

Across the street, at Spenard Joe’s coffee shop, owner Eric Morquecho said he was saddened to hear of the shooting. He said he views the neighborhood as a place with a lot of character and wants to see the community continue to grow and become safer in the future.

“There’s always a lot of activity happening,” he said. “Nothing really that has scared me, it’s always been like, I know there are a lot of drug addicts and prostitution, but it’s never been something that has concerned me or I’ve been afraid of.”

Police provided no further details Thursday. They said officers were expected to remain in the area Thursday morning, and asked anyone with information about the incident to call dispatch at 311 or Crime Stoppers at 907-561-STOP.

This is the ninth homicide in Anchorage this year, not including two fatal officer-involved shootings, the second of which occurred Thursday morning in Eagle River.

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