APD arrests man for murder in 2018 New Year’s shooting
Anchorage police have made an arrest in a New Year's Day 2018 homicide, potentially closing the case in one of the department’s unsolved deaths.
Police said Quennel Avery, 34, was taken into custody Friday afternoon on charges of first-degree and second-degree murder in the shooting of 39-year-old Timothy Smith. An APD statement called Avery "the driver of the vehicle and the shooter" involved in the case.
"As they began to investigate further, it led them to more and more new information and new leads," police wrote. "Detectives aggressively followed up on each lead and were able to successfully identify the suspect. He was arrested this afternoon and transported to jail."
APD spokesman MJ Thim called a tip police received in the case last month a “game-changer,” which helped investigators crack the case.
“What we had was lots of information, but nothing to tie this together,” Thim said. “We knew there was a vehicle, and that there was a driver and passengers, but nothing to tie that together.”
Thim said Smith and Avery had no apparent connection prior to the fatal shooting, adding that Smith may not have been the target of the gunfire.
“The victim and his friends were out celebrating the new year,” Thim said. “They came to the intersection; the victim slid across the roof of the TrailBlazer, we believe just for fun, and came into confrontation with the suspect, who was in an altercation with some other people.”
It was then that Avery, who was out of the vehicle and involved the separate altercation, allegedly shot Smith.
Smith's death was one of seven in Anchorage that stood unsolved at the end of 2018, which saw a total of 28 homicides.
The shooting occurred just 15 minutes into the new year, as the city was closing 2017 on a record-setting 35 homicides. Police said Smith had been headed from the Gaslight Lounge to the Avenue Bar when he was shot near 4th Avenue and D Street.
APD had distributed photos of a silver Chevrolet TrailBlazer SUV seen in the area, asking residents for help locating the vehicle and identifying its occupants.
Police thanked the public for information that led to Avery's arrest, which was based on a tip detectives received last month.
“This is a great example of why to always say something when you see or hear anything suspicious,” Thim said. “It can mean the difference between taking a criminal off the street and not.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story had an error in the sequence of events leading up to the fatal shooting.
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