Juneau police kill sword-wielding suspect

Officer shoots man after he fails to put down his weapon

Posted: Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Juneau police officer shot and killed an assault suspect wielding a samurai sword near the Thunder Mountain Trailer Park on Friday evening.

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Police said that Randall Clevenger, 40, lifted his sword after police caught him in a wooded area near the scene of an assault.

"He asked the officer to shoot him, and stepped forward," Juneau police Sgt. Dave Campbell said.

The officer, whose name was withheld as of Sunday, had backed up about 50 yards as Clevenger approached. The officer shot Clevenger three times in the chest after repeatedly ordering him to put the sword down, Campbell said.

"Things like this don't happen," Campbell said.

The scenario unfolded as police responded to multiple 911 calls in a mobile home park located on Thunder Mountain Road shortly after 7:30 p.m.

Callers told police that Clevenger held a "knife" to a woman's throat.

"It looks like alcohol was involved," Campbell said.

Clevenger ran, but police found him near the trailer park at the end of Valley Boulevard.

Screaming for police to shoot him, Clevenger advanced with the samurai sword raised. The officer repeatedly told Clevenger to drop the sword, Campbell said.

"Clevenger was so close," he said.

After shooting Clevenger, the officer performed CPR until paramedics arrived on scene and pronounced him dead, Campbell said. No other officers were present at the time of the shooting, Campbell said.

"We're investigating it as any other shooting," Campbell said. He promised a complete investigation.

Police said more information was forthcoming, and the officer was placed on administrative leave.

Residents throughout the park heard gunshots, but none said they knew Clevenger, or witnessed what happened.

"To have something like this happen here is scary," Charlotte Siverly said.

A 12-year resident of the park, Harold Wheaton described the place as "nice and quiet and peaceful." He lives 100 yards from the path that Clevenger died on.

"I supposed the guy was all doped up with something," Wheaton said.

Clevenger was recently convicted for driving while intoxicated. He was on probation. Clevenger's blood alcohol level was .126 in that incident, according to court records.

Police requested an autopsy and toxicology screen.

Friday's shooting was the first in 11 years to involve Juneau police, and the first time Campbell remembered an officer killing a suspect.

• Contact Greg Skinner at 523-2258, or greg.skinner@juneauempire.com.

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