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Crime & Courts

Assistant district attorney shot and killed in Barrow

  • Author: Laurel Andrews
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published December 9, 2014

An Alaska assistant district attorney who once was a Washington state lawmaker was shot and killed in the Arctic community of Barrow, according to officials with the North Slope Borough.

Brian Sullivan, a 48-year-old Barrow resident, was killed Monday, according to a press release sent out by borough Mayor Charlotte Brower. Police had responded to a reported shooting at 5318 Laura Madison St. at roughly 10 p.m., which resulted in Sullivan's death, the release said.

"The incident is being investigated as a homicide," Brower said in the release.

Ronald Fischer, 47, was being held as a suspect in the case, according to Barrow court clerk Mercy Acheson. Online court records indicate charging documents are pending in a felony case against Fischer in Barrow.

Fischer also faces charges filed Sept. 21 for kidnapping, felony threat of death or injury and assault, online court records show. On Dec. 1, he was also charged with violating conditions of release.

Sullivan had moved to Barrow in May 2012, said Rick Svobodny, deputy attorney general for the criminal division of the Alaska Department of Law. Sullivan was one of two assistant district attorneys serving the community.

Robert Campbell, an attorney with Caliber Law Group in Barrow, said he knew Sullivan well. Sullivan had lived with him for several months in the spring of 2012 after he moved to Barrow, Campbell said. He had moved to the state's farthest-north community from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

"He was intelligent and he was thoughtful … and he was empathic," Campbell said.

Campbell said he has watched many prosecutors come and go in Barrow. Sullivan was different, Campbell said. "He's the only one who has stuck around."

Sullivan liked Barrow, Campbell said, and that it was "nice to have that kind of solidity."

"He was very dedicated to the community," Campbell said.

Campbell had represented Fischer, the man being held as a suspect in Sullivan's death, in the felony case filed against Fischer in September.

Sullivan lived in Washington before moving to Alaska in 2001 on active duty with the U.S. Army, according to his website. He passed the Washington bar exam in 1995 and practiced law before coming to Alaska.

He was a paratrooper and Judge Advocate General's Corps attorney, his website says. The Anchorage Daily News reported in 2011 that he was an Iraq combat veteran and Army major.

He was also a former Democratic member of the Washington House of Representatives, according to Greg Payne, officer coordinator for the chief clerk of the Washington House.

Sullivan served the 29th district, in the Tacoma area, from January 1997 through January 2001.

In 2010 he began working as a sole practitioner in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, mostly in bankruptcy and federal criminal felony cases, according to his website.

Sullivan also briefly served on the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School Board in 2007 and ran for mayor in 2011, according to Anchorage Daily News reports.

Incoming Mat-Su area state Rep. Jim Colver, said he had known Sullivan since 2007, when they served on the Mat-Su school board together.

"I'm shocked and devastated and feeling very sad for his family," Colver said. "He has three wonderful, beautiful daughters. … It's just tragic."

Colver described Sullivan as a "working-class guy from Tacoma" and a "true patriot and just a real stand-up guy."

Colver said Sullivan was still close to his ex-wife and that he regularly traveled to the Valley area to see his daughters.

Sullivan was Barrow's district chair with the Alaska Republican Party, according to an ARP Facebook post that said Sullivan "was a spectacular person and absolutely dedicated to the service of his community."

Campbell said Sullivan was politically astute. "We used to talk politics all the time," he said.

Alaska State Troopers spokesperson Megan Peters wrote Tuesday morning that troopers would be flying from Fairbanks to Barrow at the request of the acting chief of police of the North Slope Borough.

The investigation was ongoing Tuesday, according to Svobodny.

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