An Anchorage man fatally shot behind Fred Meyer apparently was a victim of "a random act of violence," Juneau Police Chief Greg Browning said Monday.
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Simone Yung Kim, a 26-year-old paint contractor hired for the store's ongoing expansion project, was talking with landscapers when he was approached by his assailant, who allegedly displayed a sawed-off Ruger 10-22 .22-caliber rifle and shot Kim once in the head. After Kim fell to the ground, the man shot him three or four more times in his upper body, witnesses told police, according to Juneau court records.
Police found Jason Michael Coday, 28, in dense brush in the area shortly after 5:39 p.m., about three hours after the shooting. He was lodged at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center on a charge of first-degree murder. Sitka Magistrate Bruce Horton set his bail at $1 million in cash on Saturday.
At least two witnesses saw the shooting and provided a description of Kim's assailant, Browning said. The two were working for a landscaping company hired to clear trees and were discussing with Kim which ones needed to be cut to proceed with painting, according to court records. After the shooting, one of the landscape contractors wrestled the rifle away from the shooter, who escaped and ran into the woods behind the store.
Coday is accused of killing Kim with a weapon Browning said Coday illegally purchased from a Juneau gun shop two days earlier, the day he told police he arrived in Juneau. While the salesman was distracted, a man fitting Coday's description left with the gun. Although he left $200 on the counter, he didn't fill out the federally required identification and transfer paperwork, Browning said. The weapon was later modified, he added.
"We do not know what motive led Mr. Coday to commit this crime and we're not going to speculate," Browning said.
Before his Juneau arrest, Coday was apparently homeless, staying in the woods behind the store, Browning said.
"I wouldn't exactly call that a camping area," he added.
Browning said there is no indication that Coday had any previous dealings with Kim.
"I have not heard of them having exchanged words at all," added police Lt. Kris Sell.
While Kim came from Anchorage to work on the Fred Meyer expansion project, Coday had at least one brush with the law this summer.
He faced weapons and drug charges in Clark County, Nev., from a June 16 incident, Juneau District Attorney Doug Gardner wrote in an affidavit justifying the charge. Las Vegas Metro Police reported he was released from custody and failed to appear for a scheduled July 18 court date, according to the document.
Coday's driver's license listed him as a resident of Vernal, Utah, in the northwestern part of the state, Browning said.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Coday would face a prison sentence of 20 to 99 years. He is next scheduled to appear in Juneau District Court at 1:15 p.m. today.
Browning said Friday's killing was the first murder in Juneau in more than six years. Kenneth Ike Thomas was fatally beaten in January 2000 outside a trailer on Village Street downtown. After being found guilty of second-degree murder at a second trial last fall, Ronald Smith was sentenced to serve 85 years in prison.
Tony Carroll can be reached at email@example.com.