In a moment, an emotional night turned deadly: June Anchorage police shooting was 6th death since 2020

Tyler May’s death marked the third time Anchorage police shot someone in a three-week span, leaving two men dead and another man hospitalized.

Tyler May was emotional after an argument with his pregnant girlfriend when he took a walk with a friend to a quiet Fairview garden in early June. He carried a handgun.

In an interview, his friend Kaylep Olomua said he hoped he could help defuse the situation. After they met up, Olomua said, May fired a gunshot into the air and fell to his knees crying.

Police soon arrived. A chaotic scene quickly unfolded. Within seconds, May was dead on the pavement outside the Anchorage Senior Activity Center, shot multiple times by Anchorage Police Department officers.

The incident marked the third time Anchorage police shot someone in a three-week span, leaving two men dead and another man hospitalized.

On Wednesday, a woman was found dead in her home after a standoff with police in East Anchorage in which both the woman and a SWAT officer fired shots.

That incident is being investigated as what police call an “officer-involved shooting,” but it is not clear whether the woman died as a result of police gunfire.

The close timing of the shootings in May and June is unusual, said Anchorage Police Department Chief Designee Bianca Cross. But they aren’t connected, she said — except police say all three men shot were carrying weapons at the time of the encounters.

May’s death was the sixth time Anchorage Police Department officers have shot and killed a person since the beginning of 2020, according to a Daily News analysis of public records.


In that timespan, five additional people were shot and wounded in encounters with police but survived. On four occasions, police shot at a suspect but did not hit or injure the person.

The encounters, fatal and nonfatal, occurred in varied neighborhoods and circumstances, in a driveway, a car, a freeway exit, a roadside and a park, according to legal analyses of the incidents by the Office of Special Prosecutions reviewed by the Daily News. A longtime correctional officer told a police negotiator that he wanted to be shot by police and then was, as he strode toward officers wielding a shotgun. A teenager pulled over for a traffic investigation opened fire, and police shot back.

In five of six fatal encounters, the person killed was carrying a weapon, according to the reviews.

All of the incidents before 2024 have been reviewed by the state Office of Special Prosecutions, part of the Department of Law. No officers have faced criminal charges as a result of their role in a shooting during that time frame, said the office’s chief, Jenna Gruenstein.

The office investigates only whether officers’ conduct in a shooting was justified under Alaska law.

Alaska statute gives law enforcement officers authority to use deadly force if they believe their life or the life of another person is in danger, or if the officer “believes the person committed a violent felony, if the person has escaped or is attempting to escape while in possession of a firearm or the felon’s conduct may otherwise endanger life or inflict serious physical injury unless arrested without delay.”

Police personnel records in Alaska are confidential, so it’s not known whether any individual officer faced internal discipline for actions during a shooting.

4 1/2 years

In 2020, the year the George Floyd case in Minneapolis vaulted police killings into the national spotlight, Anchorage police shot and killed three people: Daelyn Polu, William Riley-Jennings and Keith Beecroft, according to Office of Special Prosecutions legal review findings and news reports from the time.

Polu was shot during a traffic stop in Mountain View in February 2020 after he fired at an officer, striking him in a ballistics vest, an Office of Special Prosecutions report concluded. At 16, he was the youngest person killed by police in recent Anchorage history. The encounter was not captured on video, and Polu’s family publicly questioned the police narrative of events at protest events that summer.

That October, officers fatally shot Beecroft, 43. Officers had been called to the correctional officer and Army veteran’s Eagle River home for a report that he was drunk, despondent and armed. After a standoff during which he told a negotiator he was “going to force the police to shoot him,” he walked toward officers holding a shotgun, and was shot.

In December 2020, police responding to a call about a stolen vehicle tracked footprints in fresh fallen snow near Russian Jack Springs Park. They found Riley-Jennings in a stand of trees on the edge of an elementary school playground, abandoned at midnight. Riley-Jennings yelled that he had a gun and four officers shot him, according to the review.

It turned out that Riley-Jennings, 34, was unarmed. A legal review found that the officers were still justified in shooting him because Alaska law permits the use of deadly force even if a threat did not actually exist as long as the mistake was reasonable under the circumstances.


“Criminal charges are not warranted in this case because the officers’ use of deadly force was reasonably necessary to defend themselves from the perceived threat of death or serious injury,” the review found.

There were no fatal shootings by Anchorage police officers in 2021 or 2022.

But there were several shootings in which a person was struck by gunfire but not killed: In one case, police shot and injured a man who had used an elementary school-aged child as a “human shield,” according to a police description of the event.

In another, a police officer was hurt in an exchange of gunfire with a man in Centennial Park, then being used as a mass homeless camp. The shooter was also wounded.

In 2022, police were called to the scene of a man waving a machete on a busy Anchorage street. The officers saw the man raise what they thought was a gun and shot at him, but didn’t hit him. It turned out to be pepper spray.

In 2023, police shot and killed Sean Burke, 34, a Tok resident who was drunk and carrying an AK-47 rifle on the South Birchwood exit ramp of the Glenn Highway, according to a state Office of Special Prosecutions review.


The next fatal shooting was Kris Handy, shot dead outside an apartment complex on Bearfoot Drive in West Anchorage in May. The death is still under investigation.

At the beginning of June, Kaleb Bourdukofsky was shot as he ran from the scene of a deadly shooting in which witnesses said he had just shot a person and fired into a group. Bourdukofsky was charged with murder the following day and arraigned last week, still hospitalized.

Then came Tyler May’s death, in June.

Leadup to the shooting

In interviews, Tyler May’s girlfriend, Ashley Kelley, and his friend, Olomua, described a volatile night that ended with a fast, deadly encounter with police.

Kelley said she and May lived together and were expecting their first child. On the evening of June 3, they’d gotten into an argument about May drinking, she said. He left their Fairview house on a bike.

She said she figured he was headed to Olomua’s home, a friend he knew from their job working in property management.


[Anchorage police say longstanding state practice bars release of body camera shooting video]

Olomua said he and his friend went on a walk. Both men were carrying handguns. May had gotten one as soon as he turned 21, and regularly carried it, Kelley said.

Less than a block from Olomua’s house, near the corner of East 19th Avenue and Karluk Street, May fired a shot into the air and then fell to his knees crying, Olomua said.

“He was kind of crying over (Kelley), like ‘I’ll die for this girl,’” Olomua said.

Police say they received multiple calls about gunfire in the area. The two men were near the garden of the senior center when officers pulled up, Olomua said.

Police yelled at the men not to move, Olomua said. He said he sat on the curb but May began to run. He says he remembers officers yelling that May had a gun. They released a dog.

As the police dog bit May, three officers fired at him, striking him multiple times and killing him, Olomua said.

Cross said during a news conference that May was pulling a gun “off his person” when officers shot him.


Olomua said he couldn’t see what May had been doing with his handgun in the moments before officers shot. He was handcuffed and taken to the police station for an interview before being released without charges. It is legal to carry a handgun.

Kelley arrived at the senior center shortly after the shooting. She said she could see May’s body from behind the crime scene tape. It was uncovered for about three hours, she said.

It all just happened so fast, they both said.

The deaths of Handy and May are the first fatal police shootings captured since Anchorage officers began wearing body cameras. Kelley and Olomua want to see that footage, to better understand what happened.

Catherine Jones, May’s mother, said she can’t make sense of what happened. She also wants to see body camera footage. Jones said she met with Cross, the police chief designee, about body camera footage and was told to talk to the Office of Special Prosecutions.

Cross has said she will not release body camera footage, despite policy allowing her to do so, until the legal review about whether criminal charges are warranted is complete.

Gruenstein, with the Office of Special Prosecutions, said she understands the public demand to have body camera footage released quickly, but said doing so could compromise important evidence in the event that a case did lead to a criminal charge, threatening any possible future prosecution.

Investigations can take several months.

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From 2020: 43 people have been killed by Alaska law enforcement officers in the last 5 ½ years. Here’s what we learned by examining each case.

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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

Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a longtime reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She focuses on in-depth stories about the intersection of public policy and Alaskans' lives. Before joining the ADN in 2012, she worked at daily newspapers up and down the West Coast and earned a master's degree from the University of Oregon.