Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Alaska supermarket shooting suspect charged with murder

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A gunman who killed a man outside an Alaska grocery store over the weekend did not move and opened fire at the store, injuring another person, officials said Monday.

Joshua Eric Butcher, 41, who turned himself in to police minutes after Sunday’s shooting in Fairbanks, was charged with first-degree murder and is being held at the Fairbanks Correctional Center.

Butcher appeared for appearance on Monday afternoon, where he was ordered to be held on $10 million bail. He was appointed a public defender. A message to the Public Defender’s office in Fairbanks seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Fairbanks District Attorney Joseph Dalair said he expects at least one other charge to be filed against Butcher. According to a criminal complaint signed by Fairbanks Police Investigator Caleb Reuter, officers alleged that Butcher fired several shots at the man outside the store and “did not break further and continued into the store,” the Anchorage Daily News reported..

The shooter then “fired several shots on the north side of the store, causing many to take cover and fled. Multiple gun defects were found on walls, checkout registers and banners throughout the store,” the complaint says.

The department said in a statement that police have not identified the motive for the shooting.

The police received several calls informing them of the shootings at the Safeway grocery store. Responding officers found that the first victim, a 41-year-old man, was unresponsive on the sidewalk.

Additional officers entered the store, where they found a 9mm semi-automatic handgun on the floor inside the entrance. They also found a second victim, a 24-year-old man located behind the customer service desk who had been shot in the leg.

He described the shooter as a heavy-duty man wearing a plaid shirt.

Both victims were taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, where the old man was pronounced dead. The man who shot him in the leg was treated and has since been released.

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About 11 minutes after the shootout, police said they received a call from the butcher who said he was out of the police department. He said he was at Safeway, and officers could come out and arrest him according to the statement. He also said that he would not answer questions without a lawyer.

Police said he matched the shooter’s description and had an empty gun holster and empty magazine holder.

While detectives processed the grocery store scene, they “saw several shotgun magazines and several spent and 9mm rounds,” the statement said. Police spokesman Teal Soden declined to say how many shots were fired.

Security camera footage showed a man approaching the entrance of the shop and shooting a 41-year-old man in the stomach while leaving the shop, the statement said. Video footage shows the gunman continuing into the shop with the gun in his hand.

The statement said he walked past the registers, heading north into the building, but then turned and exited through the same entrance he had entered. It was not immediately clear how long he had been in the store.

“All camera footage is still being closely reviewed, but for now we know that the first victim was apparently shot on video,” Soden said in an email to the Associated Press. “We’ll need to do more review before we can definitively say whether the shooting of the second victim was clearly on video.”

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This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the police spokesman’s last name. They are teal soden, not soden.

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