Before a 23-year-old man allegedly pointed a bow and arrow at two people walking near the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall in the Willoughby District, the stranger made a comment regarding their race, police say.
“He said something to the effect of, ‘Stop doing that, Native,’” Juneau Police Department Lt. David Campbell said in a phone interview Monday, adding that he didn’t know what the man wanted the two to stop doing.
Police aren’t sure what to make of the bizarre incident, which took place Saturday afternoon near Village Street and resulted in the man’s arrest. Alcohol was involved. It’s not immediately clear if it was racially motivated.
“It’s hard to say what caused this,” Campbell said.
The two victims, a 35-year-old man and woman, did not know the suspect. The bowman, whose name coincidentally is Wesley J. Bowman, is white and the two victims are Alaska Native, police said.
Immediately after the encounter, the scared victims called 911. Responding police officers found Bowman still at the scene sitting on a concrete barrier with his camouflage Carolina Archery Products brand compound bow and five arrows.
Police confiscated the bow and arrows and arrested him on suspicion of two counts of felony assault for placing the man and woman in fear of injury with a weapon.
Electronic court records indicate Bowman made his first felony appearance in court on Sunday before a magistrate, and he is slated to appear in court again today for further proceedings. He’s also facing a misdemeanor in connection to the incident for violating the conditions of his release in a felony case.
Records online show he was charged with two felonies, vehicle theft and burglary, and a misdemeanor theft charge for an incident on April 5. He is scheduled to stand trial in that case in September. Court records show he posted $500 bail in that case and was released in mid-June.
There was another racially-charged incident in June during Celebration, Sealaska’s biennial celebration of Native Alaska culture, wherein a man yelled racial epithets at the crowd and stole a flag. Police have not charged anyone in that case but have identified the prime suspect as 32-year-old Alexander Libbrecht, who has since been sentenced in accordance to another racially-motivated crime around the same time frame.
Police previously described racially motivated crimes in Juneau as few and far in between. Campbell reiterated that by phone on Monday and said he has not seen an uptick in such crimes.