30th homicide makes 2016 Anchorage’s deadliest year on record
There’s a new record for Anchorage — a murder Tuesday night has pushed the city’s yearly homicide rate to an all-time high. The Anchorage Police Department says 2016 has had 30 homicides so far, surpassing a record set in 1995 when that year ended with 29.
The latest homicide occurred in an East Anchorage neighborhood off of Boniface Parkway, and police are calling it a case of domestic violence.
A woman who said her husband was holding a gun to her head called police around 10 p.m. Tuesday night. Police said before they could get there, the woman’s father arrived and shot her husband dead.
Lt. John McKinnon said the numbers are high, but it isn’t changing the way APD does business.
“We investigate crimes every day, so to us it’s just another day,” McKinnon explained. “We are not overwhelmed and we have the staffing to take care of anything that happens.”
McKinnon said the department has a 90 percent solve rate on homicide cases, “which is way above the national average.” He said only a handful of the 30 remain unsolved.
APD only counts three of this year’s homicides as truly unsolved. Those include the shooting deaths of Marcus Cosby Jr. in Eagle River, Ian Bobich in Government Hill and the mysterious death of Elijah Zeller, who was dropped at a hospital with gunshot wounds he later succumbed to. Police said they are still not entirely sure where Zeller was shot.
Four other deaths are considered unsolved because a suspect has yet to be identified in those cases — the double homicides at Valley of the Moon Park and on Ship Creek Trail. However, all four victims — Jason Netter, Brianna Foisy, Brie De Husson and Kevin Turner — were killed by the same gun, which was also used to shoot and kill Treyveonkindell Thompson, police said. The man who had the gun, James Dale Ritchie, was killed in a shootout with police after firing on an officer.
Police have so far only been able to connect Ritchie with Thompson’s death, thanks to witnesses who helped police create a suspect sketch strikingly similar in appearance to Ritchie. The investigations into the other four deaths continue.
McKinnon said the public has been helpful this year in providing information to police, which has helped solve some of the crimes. He said he expects communication with the public will only get better as more officers hit the streets after upcoming APD academies, which Mayor Ethan Berkowitz has championed since he was sworn in.
“When you do not have an adequately sized police department, crime surges and the surge in crime is like a bow wave that’s moving ahead of the growth and the numbers of the police department,” he said Wednesday. “As the police department reaches full staffing levels, we’ll be able to keep more crimes from occurring.”
KTVA 11’s Daniella Rivera, Lauren Maxwell and Shannon Riddle contributed to this report.
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