An Anchorage man fatally shot an employee at the Midtown apartment complex where he lived after he received a notice Monday stating the lease would not be renewed, authorities said.
Jesse Lee Jones, 27, is charged with first- and second-degree murder and assault in the death of 34-year-old Josiah Goecker, a building employee. Jones evaded police for several days and was arrested early Thursday near Wasilla, Alaska State Troopers said.
The shooting incident, which occurred in the leasing office of the Alpine Apartments complex, involved at least three people: Jones, Goecker and another employee, according to a criminal complaint.
It was apparently sparked by a notice posted Monday morning on the door of the apartment where Jones lived with another person, according to the sworn complaint written by Anchorage police officer Troy Clark.
Jones’ name was not on the lease of the apartment, which was a violation of the agreement, said Greg Cerbana, vice president of public relations for building owner Weidner Apartment Homes. Building employees had tried for months to correct the violation without success and on Monday posted a notice stating that the lease would not be renewed after it ended, Cerbana said.
Jones went into the leasing office around 3:45 p.m. Monday, and security footage showed he handed the other employee a piece of paper before Goecker can be seen in the image several seconds later, the complaint said. The other employee told investigators Jones came into the office, handed them the notice and then confronted Goecker about it, the complaint said.
Goecker was the community director and oversaw operations for the 387-unit apartment complex, Cerbana said.
Jones expressed frustration over the notice and pulled out a handgun and tried to fire it, but the weapon malfunctioned, the complaint said. Jones and Goecker struggled over the gun, but Jones pulled the magazine from the pistol and fixed it, the complaint said.
He then fired at Goecker multiple times before running from the office, the complaint said.
Goecker died at the scene and the other employee called police, the complaint said.
The department’s SWAT team responded to the area and searched for Jones but didn’t find him. Investigators reviewed video footage from the leasing office and a common area of the building Jones lived in, the complaint said. In the footage, police said, Jones was seen running from the apartment building minutes after the shooting.
Someone familiar with the situation told investigators a family member had given Jones a 9 mm handgun a few months ago, the complaint said. Investigators did not find the gun during a search of the apartment where Jones lived, according to the complaint. They recovered five 9 mm shell casings from the leasing office, it said.
The large law enforcement response to the shooting closed roads and prevented residents from returning home for hours on Monday afternoon and evening.
Police continued searching for Jones in the days following and on Tuesday night asked for the public’s help finding him.
He was arrested near Wasilla early Thursday after Alaska State Troopers were called to a home because of a verbal disturbance, they said. A person who lived in the area reported a man and woman were yelling, troopers spokesman Austin McDaniel said. When troopers responded, they contacted Jones and saw that he had a warrant for his arrest, they said.
He was taken into custody without incident, troopers said, and he was being held Thursday at the Anchorage Correctional Complex. No charges were filed related to the verbal disturbance, McDaniel said.
Goecker was a longtime employee at the apartment complex who was “well-loved and respected,” Cerbana said.
In a statement Wednesday, Goecker’s family said he “was a devoted husband, a loving father, a caring son, an incredible brother, and a dear friend to so many. He loved Jesus Christ with his whole heart and strength and his final act was modeling the sacrifice of Christ.”
An online fundraiser is supporting his wife, daughter and unborn daughter.
[Correction: An earlier version of this story reported, based on information in the criminal complaint, that the dispute was sparked by an eviction notice. An official with Weidner Apartment Homes said it was a non-renewal notice that was issued, not an eviction notice, because Jones’ name was not on the lease and employees had been otherwise unable to remediate that lease violation.]