UPDATE: Court records reveal events leading up to shooting death at Eagle River Carrs
Updated on Thursday, Nov. 5 at 5:30 p.m.
Court documents released Thursday outlined the events leading up to the death of a 26-year-old man in the early morning hours of Oct. 30.
The body of Spencer Ballenger was found in the parking lot of the Eagle River Carrs when police responded there to reports of a male gunshot victim at 1:50 a.m., court records show.
While investigating the scene, police were notified of a shooting that occurred at the nearby Eagle River Motel before Ballenger was shot and killed. Police determined that Trejo and Joseph Graffius were involved both incidents, as was Ballenger.
Eagle River Motel
Through the course of their investigation, police learned the interactions between Ballenger and Trejo escalated at the Eagle River Motel, court documents show. Trejo arrived at one of the hotel’s rooms and confronted the group inside, which included Graffius and Ballenger, about a missing pistol.
“Everyone in the room, except Ballenger, lifted up their shirt to show they did not have the pistol,” Anchorage police Det. James Estes wrote in his affidavit. “Instead of lifting his shirt, Ballenger pulled out a gun and asked them what they were going to do about it.”
Graffius reportedly told Ballenger it wasn’t worth it, but Trejo and Ballenger “did everything but point guns at each other,” court records noted. Trejo told Ballenger they could “get physical” about it, but didn’t want to involve guns, pulling out his clip and clearing his weapon’s chamber.
Trejo turned and walked out of the room, according to Graffius, and Ballenger fired at least one shot at him. Police later found two bullet holes in the door of the room the group was staying in. Motel surveillance footage showed Trejo backing out of the room and producing a semi-automatic handgun, which he pointed into the room. It was at that time Ballenger appears to have fired back, and Trejo fled. Ballenger, Graffius and the other occupants can then be seen leaving “over the next several minutes.”
Shooting at Carrs
Graffius told police he and Trejo walked to Carrs after the initial confrontation at the motel, “unaware Ballenger was there,” court documents said.
A woman and a security guard witnessed Ballenger and two other men — later identified as 26-year-old murder suspect Aaron Trejo and Joseph Graffius — interacting in the parking lot just before the shooting. The incident was also captured by surveillance cameras at the business.
Ballenger can be seen at Carrs before Trejo and Graffius arrive. The pair sat down on a bench outside and at one point, Trejo got up and walked off. Ballenger came outside shortly after that and saw Graffius on the bench.
“During the first minute and a half of their conversation, Ballenger is walking around as if he is trying to determine if Trejo is nearby,” Estes noted.
Graffius, Trejo and Ballenger can then be heard arguing and “at approximately [1:37 a.m.], Ballenger can be seen flinching and turns to run,” according to Estes. A few seconds later, someone wearing dark clothing can be seen on camera running “down the sidewalk, out into the parking lot.”
“This is when I believe Ballenger was shot,” Estes noted.
Police found multiple .45 caliber shell casings in the parking lot, court records show. A .45 caliber Springfield 1911 pistol was found in a nearby yard, wrapped in a sweater similar to what Trejo can be seen wearing in surveillance footage at both scenes.
Anchorage police issued a statement asking for the public’s help in locating Trejo, who was initially called a “person of interest” in the case. U.S. Marshals located Trejo at an Anchorage Holiday gas station late Wednesday night.
Following an interview with police, Trejo was charged with first- and second-degree murder. He was arraigned Thursday afternoon and held without bail at the Anchorage Correctional Complex.
A 26-year-old man who police said was a person of interest in an Eagle River homicide has been arrested and charged with murder.
Aaron Nathaniel Trejo is facing first- and second-degree murder charges after 26-year-old Spencer Christian Ballenger was discovered fatally shot outside the Eagle River Carrs last week. Trejo is in custody at the Anchorage jail, according to an online database of inmates. He is being held without bail.
Late Wednesday night, U.S. Marshals found Trejo at the Holiday store at 2900 E. Tudor Rd. He was sitting in a vehicle in the Holiday parking lot, according to a Thursday release from the Anchorage Police Department.
Authorities took Trejo into custody and he was questioned at APD headquarters for his involvement in the homicide. After the police interview, Trejo was charged with murder along with failure to appear on third-degree assault charges.
Trejo was identified as a person of interest early on in APD’s investigation. A warrant was issued for Trejo Wednesday, court records say.
On Tuesday, APD sent out an updated release on the investigation and reiterated that they wanted Trejo for questioning. In the statement, police also said they were looking for witnesses who were spotted in a dark-blue sedan with tinted windows who were reportedly in the Carrs parking lot at the time of the shooting.
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