For nearly 20 years, former police officer Troy Wilson was a trusted member of the community who worked to protect and serve the people of Juneau.
He ran in marathons to benefit the Special Olympics. He coached high school students in the city basketball league. He supported MADD’s Youth in Action program, which aims to prevent underage drinking.
“He’s a model citizen,” one of his neighbors said Sunday morning. “He was a great neighbor — he is a great neighbor.”
But on Saturday night, the lieutenant, who resigned from the Juneau Police Department in December, turned on his former coworkers. He opened fire on police officers and their vehicles as they responded to a disturbance call at his residence, a two-story home with green trim and a bay window in the Mendenhall Valley on Black Wolf Way.
He fired off about 75 shots, police say.
One neighbor, who declined to give his name, said that was probably a low estimate, and he counted more than 90.
Police said no one was injured in the incident since responding SWAT and crisis negotiations teams took cover and tried to stay away from the hail of bullets, said JPD spokeswoman Cindee Brown-Mills. Police officers did not fire back, Brown-Mills said.
Neighbors who did not evacuate were asked to stay in their homes, and police called throughout the evening to make sure no one inside was injured.
Some neighbors took police up on their offer to evacuate the area, like Natasha Chester, 42, her husband and their two kids, ages 5 and 7, who live across the street and about two houses down from the Wilson residence. Police escorted them through the back of their house, through the woods and into a squad car well away from the scene at about 2 a.m. Sunday morning.
“They carried my baby in their arms,” said Chester, who said she was a friend of the family.
Chester said it’s not uncommon to hear gun shots in the area since the Hank Harmon Gun Range is nearby. But, “It’s not every day you hear gun shots like that,” she said.
Others stayed in their home, like Charlie Swanton, 52, who was asleep when he awoke to “two fairly prominent rapid bursts” of gun fire that sounded like “Bap, bap, bap, bap, bap, bap, bap,” he said.
“Except they weren’t baps,” Swanton said.
Neighbor Alexander Dolitsky, who went to bed around 9 p.m. Saturday night, said he heard shots around 1 a.m. He said he thought it was “crazy people” joking around at a campground behind his house, as did Swanton, until he received a phone call from a police officer who asked if he wanted to evacuate. When Dolitsky declined, he moved into the living room for safety and turned off the lights like police advised.
Though none of them could be sure, more than one neighbor said it sounded as if Wilson was using more than one gun, and one sounded like a high-powered rifle or a semi-automatic weapon.
“It definitely wasn’t a pea shooter,” Swanton said.
Police say they responded to Wilson’s home at about 10:15 p.m. Saturday night after they received a 911 phone call from Wilson’s wife, also 45. She told police her husband was drunk, had a gun and was threatening to hurt himself.
She said her husband warned if any police officers came near the house, he would shoot, according to a police statement.
Brown-Mills said she believes it’s the first time in the history of the Juneau Police Department that an officer, or former officer, has fired on other officers.
“I don’t think that we’ve had anything like that in the history of the police department,” she said in a phone interview Saturday afternoon. “Not that I’ve heard of, that’s for sure.”
Brown-Mills said Wilson surrendered to police at about 2:50 a.m. Sunday morning after talking to negotiators by phone. She said she did not know off-hand how long the phone conversation was, and she could not comment on what was said, citing police procedure.
Wilson was arrested and taken to jail without bail.
He has since been charged with first-degree attempted murder, as well as a host of other charges, eight in all, including weapons misconduct, assault involving an officer, domestic violence assault and criminal mischief. Those are all felonies.
On Sunday morning — Easter — the once-again quiet cul-de-sac off Montana Creek Road was turned into a crime scene, and marked and unmarked police vehicles lined the street.
Police continued gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses and were seen entering and exiting Wilson’s home. Yellow police crime scene tape cordoned off his front yard.
The city’s Mobile Incident Command Center, a van that serves as a command post during emergencies and that Wilson ran when it was first purchased in 2006, was parked in front of his driveway.
The only apparent damage was to a police cruiser that was struck by six to eight bullets, though neighbors reported several houses were also hit.
Friends of Wilson’s wife entered a neighbor’s home and declined to talk to press. Chester said the wife was in the care of friends and family, without elaborating further.
No one could offer an explanation, or even attempt to.
“I can’t even try to conjecture as to why he did what he did,” Brown-Mills said. “It’s a shock to all of us.”
Wilson joined the JPD about 17 years ago, and spent about the past six of them as a lieutenant, Brown-Mills said.
Earlier in his career, Wilson was a sergeant in charge of investigations and the school resource officer at Juneau-Douglas High School, Yaakoosge Daakahidi Alternative High School and Harborview Elementary School. He was in charge of the crossing-guard program.
He created an advisory board, or “Skate Board,” to fix up Pipeline Skate Park and crack down on graffiti. He headed the police community service unit. His daughter sang the national anthem at the annual National Peace Officers Memorial ceremony, held to remember officers who have been killed in the line of duty.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.