Man charged with murder in day-long spree

Two killed in gun, machete attacks

Posted: Tuesday, December 04, 2007

ANCHORAGE - Police have arrested a 28-year-old man accused of murdering two people, including his father, and injuring three others in a day-long series of gun and machete attacks in two Alaska cities, authorities said Monday.

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Christopher Erin Rogers Jr. was apprehended after leading police on a brief vehicle chase through morning rush hour traffic in Anchorage on Monday.

The killings, which appeared unrelated at first, began early Sunday in Palmer when Rogers allegedly used a machete to murder his 51-year-old father and seriously injure his father's 55-year-old girlfriend.

He told investigators that using a machete took up much of his energy, but he chose the weapon because he could not find his father's gun, according to the charging documents. He also told them he was angry at his family and believed they treated him poorly.

After the attack, police say, Rogers drove 40 miles south to Anchorage before sunrise in his father's black truck. Inside the truck, he found a .357 revolver and ammunition, according to charging documents.

Once in Anchorage, Rogers abandoned the truck and struck out on foot to find another vehicle, the documents stated.

"There was no indication from the initial investigation that all the crimes were connected until today," said Col. Audie Holloway of the Alaska State Troopers.

Rogers allegedly singled out a Ford Bronco in the neighborhood of Spenard, and shot and killed the driver. Jason Wenger, 27, a University of Alaska Anchorage graduate student, was sitting in the idling vehicle as the engine warmed in cold and windy weather Sunday morning.

Rogers told police he ultimately decided to leave the vehicle in the driveway because the shooting made too much noise. He said he "did not want to take on the whole neighborhood," the documents said.

Throughout Sunday, according to the records, Rogers said he slept in the woods near downtown Anchorage, bought cigarettes and a bottle of beer and then set out to find another victim.

He told police that he was no longer worried about being caught and "just wanted to kill a few more people along the way," according to the charging documents.

"This is a spike. This is an aberration," said Anchorage Police Chief Rob Heun. "Certainly there are some things we can do to prevent crime and some things we just can't do to prevent crime. However we're very efficient when it comes to apprehending the perpetrators of a crime."

According to the charging documents, Rogers encountered a woman, Liz Rumsey, 33, late Sunday night who was walking along the icy Chester Creek Trail near a neighborhood north of Westchester Lagoon. He allegedly asked her for the time and then shot her in the back when she looked "nervous." Rumsey, a law clerk for the Alaska Supreme Court, has undergone surgery and is expected to recover, according to friends and police.

The final shooting occurred Monday morning when Rogers made his second attempt to steal a vehicle, police said. He shot 43-year-old Tamas Deak multiple times after Deak had turned on his car and was leaving it to idle, according to police documents. Deak, an architect, was in critical condition at a nearby hospital.

Deak's wife called 911 and police sent at least 50 detectives and patrol officers to the area, said Anchorage Police Department spokesman Lt. Paul Honeman. The short chase ended when police rammed Rogers with their squad cars. One officer was injured.

Rogers was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of first-degree attempted murder. An arraignment was scheduled for today. Anchorage District Attorney Adrienne Bachman said Rogers was being held on $1 million bail.

The public defender's office in Palmer, which has previously represented Rogers, said it had not received paperwork to appoint him an attorney.

Rogers has a long history of trouble with the law, including charges of harassment, driving under the influence, assault and arson.

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