Crime & Courts

Suspect accused of shooting police officer during hours-long standoff in custody

A 28-year-old man accused of shooting an Anchorage police officer during a prolonged standoff near downtown Anchorage was taken into custody without incident Friday afternoon.

The officer, who was expected to survive, was shot early Friday morning while responding to an apartment building on East 10th Avenue for a report of someone assaulted with a hammer, police said.

The suspect was identified as Dillon N. Spring. Police said he had barricaded himself in an apartment before opening fire on five officers, hitting one officer multiple times in the lower body.

A lengthy negotiation ensued before Spring was taken into custody around 1:30 p.m. Friday.

The response occupied a six-block section of Ingra Street. Police said they evacuated some people within a perimeter around the apartment building where Spring was holed up, but many buildings close to the standoff location were not evacuated.

The more than 10-hour standoff spooked residents and people at nearby businesses who peered out of storefronts or hurried clients to safety.

Through much of the morning, police communicated via a loudspeaker and used a drone that hovered near the complex. Periodically, loud popping sounds were heard as well as what sounded like gunfire.

No other shots were fired by officers or the suspect after the initial shooting of the police officer, Anchorage Police Chief Michael Kerle said in a Friday briefing.

“Our SWAT team has techniques that we use, I’m not going to go into our tactical operations,” he said. “But we do have techniques, none of them involved firearms. They’re called distraction techniques.”

Kerle did not provide the name of the officer who was shot.

“The officer will need time to heal, please respect their privacy at this time,” Kerle said.

Kerle thanked officers, as well as a citizen he did not name, who he said worked together to save the injured officer’s life.

After the standoff ended Friday afternoon, 40-mm barricade-penetrating projectiles still lay strewn over the ground on the north side of the building where police had stood.

Some of the tactical operations “involved smoke, some involved lot of noises,” Kerle said. “There’s a lot of techniques used, I’m not going to cover those.”

The techniques employed apparently persuaded Spring to surrender after lengthy “verbal negotiations” with police, he said: Police managed to reach Spring over his cell phone, and he gave himself up.

Spring was not injured, Kerle said.

No one else was in the apartment with Spring when he shot the officer, Kerle said.

Kerle said police evacuated people from the apartment building, which has six units, according to city records.

The standoff

Tension grew through the morning as the standoff wore on.

Around 9 a.m., an officer could be seen training a gun in the direction of the building. White smoke appeared from the roof. Several officers stood behind a BearCat military-style vehicle, some in military gear and helmets. Two officers wore police uniforms and gas masks.

At 11 a.m, several large explosive sounds were heard. A man was seen running back and forth on the apartment building’s top floor. Projectiles appeared to hit the building.

Officers shouted at Spring to come out with his hands up, calling him by his first name: “If you comply, you will not be hurt. If you do not comply, you may be hurt. We are not going away.”

Police earlier Friday announced Ingra was closed between Ninth and 15th avenues while special units responded.

Michelle Spivey got to work around 11 a.m. at a business just northwest of the apartment building. She’d just heard from a coworker at the breathalyzer installation company, HiTech Interlock, that shots had been fired.

Not long after that, Spivey had to hustle arriving clients into her offices, including a man holding hands with his young daughter.

“My main concern is my clients‚” she said. “I’m glad the police are there, but I don’t think they closed off enough, when someone could point a gun out the window and any of my clients could be shot or get hit by a stray bullet. It’s crazy when you can’t even go to work without worrying about an active shooter around.”

A representative of The Church of the Nations of the across the street from the complex said a neighbor notified her of what was happening around 5 a.m. Then police called to make sure no one was inside and blocked the streets.

Asked why a bigger area wasn’t closed, Kerle said his tactical squad knows how to establish a safe perimeter.”

They established the perimeter they needed to contain the suspect, and that’s why the perimeter was the size it was,” Kerle said.

A police spokeswoman Friday evening said she did not have the number of officers that responded. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and medics with the Anchorage Fire Department also responded, Kerle said.

Officers first responded to the apartment at 2:45 a.m. after receiving a report of an assault with a hammer, according to a police update.

While officers talked with the victim, Spring left the apartment, police said. Officers “verbally engaged” with him but he was described as not being compliant and went back inside.

After obtaining a search warrant, officers knocked on the door and made several “verbal announcements,” Kerle said.

Spring did not respond, and officers breached the apartment door, he said.

At that point, the chief said, Spring fired multiple rounds at five officers. One officer was struck multiple times in the lower body, and another officer returned fire but did not strike Spring.

Other police were able to remove the wounded officer and reach a safe spot without further injuries, Kerle said.

The injured officer was transported to the hospital, he said. By mid-afternoon, the officer was out of surgery and expected to survive.

The original assault victim suffered injuries not considered life-threatening. Kerle called the hammer attack a felony assault.

The person involved in the assault was a downstairs tenant in the same building where Spring lived on the top floor, according to Phillip Elrod, son of the building’s owner.

Spring was about to be evicted for non-payment of rent, Elrod said. He moved in about 10 months ago and at first “seemed polite and professional” but then started having arguments with other tenants.

“He’s always been confrontational and short-tempered,” he said. “But actually assaulting somebody else, then shooting the police officer, is way over the top.”

Photographer Loren Holmes contributed to this story.

Zaz Hollander

Longtime ADN reporter Zaz Hollander is based in the Mat-Su and is currently focused on coverage of the coronavirus in Alaska. She also covers the Mat-Su region, aviation and general assignments. Contact her at zhollander@adn.com.

Alex DeMarban

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers business, the oil and gas industries and general assignments. Reach him at 907-257-4317 or alex@adn.com.

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