Crime & Courts

Man dies in hospital days after he was assaulted outside downtown Anchorage bar, police say

A man died in an Anchorage hospital Wednesday, days after he was punched outside a downtown bar, police said. A 21-year-old man has been charged in his death.

The Anchorage Safety Patrol was called to the Gaslight Lounge bar on West Fourth Avenue in the early hours of Jan. 22 for a report of an intoxicated person, according to charges signed by Assistant District Attorney Daniel Shorey. The bar is located directly across the street from police headquarters.

The patrol is dispatched by the Anchorage Fire Department Call Center in response to reports of people who appear to be incapacitated by alcohol or drugs in public, according to the municipality’s website.

When the safety patrol arrived around 3:20 a.m., 44-year-old Carl McGeary was sitting up and breathing, the charges said. Security staff from the bar told the safety patrol team that McGeary had been punched, Shorey wrote.

Safety patrol staff took McGeary to the Anchorage Safety Center, which is located next to the Anchorage Correctional Complex. The center is used as a place to monitor the sobering process, according to the city’s website.

When they arrived at the safety center, staff found that McGeary was not responsive to stimuli, although he was still breathing, so they called for medical help, the charges said. McGeary was brought to Providence Alaska Medical Center, charges said.

Anchorage Safety Patrol vans are staffed with a state-certified emergency medical technician. It is not clear whether McGeary was evaluated for injuries related to the assault or how long he was unresponsive in the van before it arrived at the center. A spokesman from the city health department, which manages the patrol program, did not immediately respond to questions Friday.

McGeary’s family made an online report to police. Officers responded Monday to the hospital, where they learned that McGeary was brain dead and would not recover from the injuries, the charges said.

He died Wednesday at the hospital.

Detectives reviewed surveillance footage from the Gaslight Lounge, and McGeary could be seen leaving the bar at 2:50 a.m., laughing and talking with another man outside the door before they began to push each other, according to charges.

A man standing in a nearby group outside the bar walked up to McGeary and punched him in the head, the charges said. McGeary had not had any other interaction with the man or other people he had been standing near, according to the court document.

“McGeary immediately falls to ground and his head strikes the pavement violently,” Shorey wrote. The man who punched him remained in front of the bar and “at one point, raises his arms in a victory celebration and dances in a circle,” the charges said.

Neither bar employees nor witnesses called 911 to request police or medics, the charges said.

A bar employee named 21-year-old George Murfitt as the man who may have assaulted McGeary, the charges said.

Detectives obtained a search warrant for Murfitt’s Army barracks, and clothing matching what the man was seen wearing in the surveillance video was taken from his barracks, according to the charges. Murfitt is a private first class in the U.S. Army and is stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Shorey wrote.

Police interviewed him at the department headquarters on Thursday. The charges said he admitted to being at the bar and punching McGeary.

Murfitt was arrested on a charge of manslaughter and is being held at the Anchorage Correctional Center.

During a telephonic arraignment hearing Saturday, Magistrate Judge Michael Smith ordered that Murfitt be released Monday on $10,000 cash bail under the condition that he remain confined to the JBER campus; is electronically monitored via GPS; has no contact with the McGeary family; and does not consume or possess alcohol, or visit an establishment where alcohol is served.

Murfitt’s next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 3.

McGeary’s death came as a shock to his friends and family, according to an online fundraiser and memorial that describes him as “the most amazing father, brother, friend and human.”

A spokeswoman for the police department would not answer questions about McGeary’s death Friday.

Daily News reporter Annie Berman contributed to this article.

[Correction: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect spelling of McGeary.]

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 twilliams@adn.com.

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