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A shooting, a skirmish line, a kidnapping that wasn't

Posted: December 8, 2013 - 1:06am
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Cars drive into the Coho Park Apartments Friday afternoon. Police say a shooting took place at the complex shortly after midnight Friday.  Emily Russo Miller / Juneau Empire
Emily Russo Miller / Juneau Empire
Cars drive into the Coho Park Apartments Friday afternoon. Police say a shooting took place at the complex shortly after midnight Friday.

After a shooting in the valley, possibly over drugs, and a subsequent report of a kidnapping that turned out to be false, police say there’s a whole “laundry list” of potential charges that could be filed against multiple people as their investigation continues.

“This is a very long, complex case with lots of people, and just a whole laundry list of potential charges,” said Lt. David Campbell, a spokesman for the Juneau Police Department, adding that about 10 to 12 JPD officers are working the case. “We’ve been in close contact with the District Attorney’s office discussing the story and charges. It’s just a really active, ongoing investigation at this point.”

The series of events began shortly after midnight on Friday with two gunshots that were heard in the parking lot of Coho Park Apartments, a low-income housing complex in the 3600 block of Amalga Street. Police ultimately determined that a 24-year-old man shot a 44-year-old man with a small caliber pistol.

The victim and his friend reportedly ran from door to door, screaming for help and trailing blood that was still visible in the snow the next day. Scared, the neighbors refused to open their doors, although multiple people did call 911.

“It was terrifying,” said one resident, Malyssa Waterhouse, a 25-year-old mother who was home with her husband and young child at the time, “because it was over drugs. I guess someone was trying to rob somebody, and we all have kids, you know? He was screaming at our door. We pretended like we weren’t home. And the neighbors were like ‘Get off our porch’ because they’ve got kids, too. I didn’t know if the guy who was shooting was going to come back, I had no idea.”

Although the neighbors are suspicious drugs were involved in the shooting, police have not confirmed that.

“That is one of the things that we are potentially looking into,” Campbell said. “We do know that the 44-year-old and the 24-year-old knew each other. This is not a situation where it was an argument and shooting between two random people, but it is too early to reveal what the argument was actually about.”

Neighbors speculated police couldn’t confirm drugs were involved because the people involved in the shooting were “playing dumb” when police interviewed them and that they were not fully cooperating because they were scared they would get in trouble.

Nevertheless, by the time officers arrived at the scene, the 24-year-old shooting suspect was already gone. Police said he fled the scene in a white truck, which police later located Friday afternoon elsewhere in the valley. Officers and paramedics tended to the 44-year-old, who had been shot once in his shoulder and once in his wrist, and took him to the hospital in an ambulance. It appears his injuries were not life threatening as he was treated and released from the hospital within seven hours, Bartlett Regional Hospital spokesman Jim Strader confirmed.

Neither the victim’s name nor the suspect’s name was released.

As police continued to search for the suspected shooter and the white truck he fled the scene in, the case took an unexpected twist. Police received a report — that turned out to be false — from a woman who said she had been kidnapped by the man. The woman, a 22-year-old local resident whose name was not released, told police at 7:40 a.m. that he had been holding her captive by gunpoint and that she had escaped when he fell asleep. The woman identified the man by name and described his vehicle as a sedan.

Armed with the new information — his name — police again went out searching for the suspect. Police said they were familiar with him from previous police contacts. They found him not long after during shift change — an officer driving to work around 8:12 a.m. spotted the sedan turning onto Riverside Drive from Egan Drive. JPD and the U.S. Forest Service officer, who was the first to respond to the JPD officer’s radio call, pulled the sedan over on Julep Street and brought him and his passenger to the JPD station. It’s not known what the passenger’s role, if any, is in the case. Police only identified the passenger as a 26-year-old woman.

Shortly afterward, from 11 a.m. to noon, police shut down a stretch of Egan Drive outbound from Vanderbilt Hill Road to Walmart and formed a skirmish line, which is the term police use to describe the lateral line of officers who walk side-by-side, as if they’re advancing into battle, during a search. Police never revealed what they were looking for, but did say they found some “potential” evidence.

“We did recover a piece of evidence from that stretch of road, but it will be up to more detailed forensic analysis to see if it was actually (involved) in this incident or not,” Campbell said.

A few hours later around 2:45 p.m., police announced in a statement, without explanation, that the report from the 22-year-old woman who said she was kidnapped was “most likely fabricated.” When asked what led police to believe that, Campbell refused to say.

“I really can’t get into specific details because we are still dealing with the specifics of the investigation,” he said. “I just thought it was important to let the public know that based on what we’ve learned so far, we don’t believe that a kidnapping took place.”

When pressed for what motivation the woman may have had to making up the allegations, Campbell again did not say.

“I can’t get into that specific detail,” he said. “As the story started to the develop, we came to the conclusion (sic) was that she was kidnapped, that just wasn’t the case.”

It’s possible she might be facing charges for filing a false police report, Campbell said.

Campbell did confirm that no arrests had been made in either the “kidnapping” case or the shooting case, as of 5 p.m. Friday. It’s not known whether the 24-year-old shooting suspect is still being detained by police.

“That I can’t comment on,” Campbell said.

It’s also not known whether the 26-year-old female passenger is still being detained, or the 22-year-old woman who had reported being kidnapped.

“That I can’t comment on either,” Campbell said.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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