Crime & Courts

Anchorage police ID suspect in Sunday car chase and shooting

The Anchorage Police Department on Tuesday morning identified the suspect who died following a Sunday car chase and shooting as 33-year-old John Martin Whittaker.

Whittaker was shot and killed Sunday after allegedly leading police on a pursuit through the streets of the city and exchanging gunfire with officers in the Anchorage neighborhood of Fairview Sunday morning.

Police initially said they weren't sure if Whittaker had been killed by officers or if he'd taken his own life during the confrontation, but said Tuesday that preliminary investigation revealed he died as a result of "officer gunfire."

The vehicle Whittaker was driving, a black Ford F-250 pickup, was stolen, according to police. He had a warrant for his arrest for a parole violation based on a felony conviction for misconduct involving a weapon.

Around 9 a.m. Sunday, police received reports of an erratic and dangerous driver near the intersection of Reka Drive and Pine Street near Russian Jack Springs Park in East Anchorage.

Whittaker allegedly ran red lights and drove into a snowbank. When police attempted to pin him in, he rammed their vehicles and pointed a gun at the officers, according to police. The officers disengaged from the pursuit and the man sped off, APD Chief Mark Mew said on Sunday.

Shortly after, police received more reports of the same vehicle driving erratically, including into oncoming traffic in the area of Northern Lights Boulevard and Boniface Parkway. Police said they chased the vehicle to 15th Avenue and Medfra Street in Fairview.


Whittaker got out of the truck and exchanged gunfire with the two officers. He ran to a nearby home, said Jennifer Castro, APD communications director.

"He is banging on the door, shouting at people inside and then starts firing rounds at the house," Castro said.

He then ran to an alley on the side of the home, Castro said, and he and the officers continued shooting.

Around 10 a.m., Whittaker was declared dead outside of the house. No officers were hurt in the incident, Castro said.

Two APD officers discharged their weapons, and were placed on leave, police wrote on Tuesday. Per APD policy, their names are being withheld for 72 hours after the incident.

The case was still under investigation Tuesday. APD asked anyone with additional information to call 907-786-2681.

Reporter Tegan Hanlon contributed to this report.

Laurel Andrews

Laurel Andrews was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Dispatch. She left the ADN in October 2018.