Crime & Courts

Anchorage man who shot couple in SUV was handed a loaded gun and fired it without warning, charges say


A woman handed her loaded handgun to a friend Monday afternoon while they were riding in an SUV in Midtown Anchorage but became nervous when he chambered a round, police say.

Joseph M. Perkins “began to act fidgety” and pointed the gun at Kraig Pierce, the woman’s husband, who was driving the Jeep, according to charges filed Tuesday by Assistant District Attorney Luba Bartnitskaia. Pierce asked 22-year-old Perkins to hand back the .380 Beretta and told him not to point it because it was loaded, but Perkins then shot Pierce.

Katelynn Pierce tried to grab her gun, but Perkins then shot her and fired at her husband a second time, the charging document said. Both were wounded in the upper arm and Kraig Pierce was also shot in the shoulder, charges said. Their 3-year-old daughter, who was seated in back with Perkins, was not harmed.

Perkins ran from the Jeep, which was stopped at a red light at Old Seward Highway and Tudor Road just before 2 p.m., police said.

Around East 45th Court, Perkins confronted a man who had been defrosting the windshield of his vehicle, the charges said. Perkins began yelling and “asking if someone had to die,” according to the charges.

The man called 911, but after he hung up, Perkins punched him in the face, Bartnitskaia wrote. They tussled and ended up on the ground, and charges said the victim eventually pushed Perkins to a snowbank and backed away.

Perkins ran south and was confronted by police about a block away. He resisted arrest but was taken into custody, police said.

Perkins “appeared to be under the influence of an impairing substance” when police arrested him, according to the charges.

Perkins is charged with two felony counts of first-degree assault and misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment, fourth-degree assault and resisting arrest. He was remanded to the Anchorage Correctional Complex.

Correction: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect first name for Perkins.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and previously helped cover the Nebraska Legislature for The Associated Press. Contact her at