Crime & Courts

Police remain tight-lipped about East Anchorage shootings

Anchorage police said Friday they don’t plan to issue updates unless arrests are made after a series of shootings injured four people, including a child, early this week and left some residents of several East Anchorage neighborhoods expressing concerns about public safety.

The shootings occurred in three locations Sunday and Monday, raising questions including whether they were connected in any way.

On Thursday, responding by email to questions, police spokeswoman Renee Oistad said the department does not plan to publicly release information about whether any of the three shootings were related — or not related — unless an arrest is made.

“The only time we would state if the shootings were related or not is if/when charges are filed,” she wrote. “Otherwise, that is part of the investigation, and it is a detail we will not release publicly (again, unless an arrest is made).”

Releasing that type of information could jeopardize the investigation, she said in the email.

Two shootings 2 1/2 hours apart Sunday evening at Creekside Park and near Russian Jack Springs Park involved people who reported being shot by someone they did not see, police said. Monday’s shooting in a Mountain View neighborhood injured a man and a child and involved two men who knew each other, they said.

As of Friday, police had not announced that any suspects had been identified or arrested. No updated information was available about the medical condition of the four people wounded in the shootings.


“The shootings are still under investigation,” spokeswoman Cherie Zajdzinski said in an email Friday morning. “Unless/until charges are filed, we have no further information to release.”

The last specific police updates came earlier in the week. Oistad said searches continued for suspects in separate shootings and that the men involved in Monday’s shooting were acquainted. She said Tuesday that police didn’t know if Sunday’s shootings were random or targeted but that there was no threat to public safety.

In the first incident reported Sunday, a woman walking near Creekside Park on Sixth Avenue was shot just after 9 p.m., according to police. Just after 11:30 that night, they said, a man was shot while walking near Russian Jack Springs Park on South Pine Street. Both people were brought to the hospital for what police described as injuries not considered life-threatening.

Monday’s incident occurred on North Lane Street. A man shot another man he knew, who then fled and entered an apartment that did not belong to him, police said. The shooter then fired again from the outside and wounded a child in the apartment, according to police. The wounded man and child were transported to the hospital for their injuries, police said.

Some residents in the neighborhoods where the shootings occurred took to social media to ask questions and post speculation in the absence of additional information. Assembly member Karen Bronga, who represents residents in East Anchorage, in an interview Friday expressed frustration that she can’t provide information to constituents voicing concerns about the shootings. Bronga said people attending a Northeast Community Council meeting Thursday evening voiced a general sense of unease that the shootings elevated.

“I understand that we’re not part of the investigation and in some ways giving out information may impact that, but I also feel like we need to be able to say something to our constituents,” she said Friday.

Phil Cannon, pastor at Mountain View Hope Covenant Church and president of the Mountain View Community Council, said Thursday that he had spoken with people in the neighborhood who said the shootings added to existing safety concerns, though he didn’t fault police for their decision to hold off on updates.

Cannon said the police department has worked with the community council to address safety concerns in recent months. He said he trusts they are determining what information to release based on the investigation.

Still, he described a general sense of concern in Mountain View following an increase in homeless camps in parks and streets after the Sullivan Arena shelter was closed in May.

Now, he said, people he talks with say their concerns have been heightened by the shootings. His own children no longer play basketball on their sidewalk.

“When suddenly there’s a rash of two, three, four shootings in such a short period of time, it forces neighbors indoors,” Cannon said.

In addition to the shootings that remain under investigation, a shooting in a Mountain View street just a few days earlier left one woman dead and another facing murder charges. Juliana Tauamo Khatthamane is accused of killing the woman and wounding a man during an Aug. 11 argument with multiple children nearby, according to criminal charges filed in the case.

Mountain View Hope Covenant Church is holding a prayer vigil “for the peace of our neighborhood” at Duldida Park on Hoyt Street at 7 p.m. Friday.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at