A man accused of fatally shooting an employee at a Midtown Anchorage apartment complex Monday will be held on $1 million bail.
Jesse Lee Jones, 27, is charged with first- and second-degree murder and assault in the death of 34-year-old Josiah Goecker, who worked as a community director at the apartment complex and oversaw operations.
Goecker put himself between another building employee and Jones just before the shooting occurred, according to testimony Friday during the first court hearing in the case.
More than 50 people attended the hearing at the Anchorage Correctional Complex, an unusually large crowd described later by Goecker’s family as a show of support. The courtroom reached capacity and groups of people who were turned away listened into the hearing by phone.
Assistant District Attorney Travis Atkinson described the crime as an “unprovoked, targeted killing.”
A building employee posted a notice Monday on the door of the Alpine Apartments unit where Jones was living with another person, according to the sworn complaint written by Anchorage police officer Troy Clark.
Jones’ name was not on the lease, which was a violation of the agreement, according to Greg Cerbana, vice president of public relations for building owner Weidner Apartment Homes. Building employees had tried for months to correct the violation, but the notice posted Monday said the lease would not be renewed after it ended, he said.
Jones entered the leasing office with the notice in hand around 3:45 p.m. Monday and “asked to speak to the person responsible,” Atkinson said during Friday’s hearing. Goecker came out of his office and placed himself between Jones and the employee Jones was speaking to, he said.
“When he began speaking to the defendant about the notice, the defendant immediately drew a pistol from his vest, pointed it at him and pulled the trigger,” Atkinson said.
The weapon failed to fire, according to the prosecutor. Goecker and Jones struggled over the gun but Jones was able to regain control and cleared the malfunction before shooting Goecker multiple times at close range, he said.
Goecker died at the scene, police said.
The shooting prompted a SWAT response that closed down roads and left residents without access to their homes for hours on Monday afternoon and evening. Authorities were unable to locate Jones.
He evaded them for three days before he was arrested early Thursday near Wasilla. Alaska State Troopers responded to a home because a man and woman were reported to be yelling, a troopers spokesman said. Responding troopers realized Jones had a warrant for his arrest and took him into custody without incident, troopers said.
After he was arrested, Jones told authorities he was under the influence of controlled substances, Atkinson said. Jones had a different gun on him than the one used in the shooting, he said.
Authorities have not been able to locate the gun used to kill Goecker, according to Atkinson.
Anchorage District Court Judge David Wallace set bail at $1 million: $500,000 cash performance and $500,000 cash appearance. Jones will be subject to electronic monitoring if he makes bail.
Jones will be represented by the Public Defender’s Office. He looked down as Wallace asked him questions Friday, mostly shaking his head to indicate his answers. Jones shook his head to indicate no when the judge asked if he was employed and mumbled when asked how he got by without a job or money.
Relatives of Goecker’s said the people who filled the rows of seats in the small courtroom included friends, family and some who said they had never met him but wanted to show their support.
As they walked from the courtroom after the hearing, people in the crowd shared hugs and wiped away tears.
Goecker was a loving father and husband who acted as a leader in his own family and in the community, his brother Jared Goecker said after the hearing.
The Goecker family moved to Alaska in the early 2000s and Josiah Goecker returned in 2016, his brother said. He loved to fish and had “uncanny luck — he just always caught more fish than everybody,” Jared Goecker said. He was a hands-on parent who frequently took his daughter for bike rides and cherished spending quality time with her, Jared Goecker said. His wife is pregnant with their second daughter.
Faith was a pillar of Josiah Goecker’s life and his love for Jesus showed “in everything that he did,” including his final moments, his brother said.
The family is devastated by Josiah Goecker’s death, they said.
“It’s just so hard to be here, to be having this conversation, to be at this courthouse doing this stuff,” Jared Goecker said. “It’s so hard and this is so incredibly unfair because he was such an incredible man.”