A police officer was shot dead in a gunfight with a suspect at a campsite in Alaska, authorities said.
The incident occurred when two officers conducting a security check at Anchorage’s Centennial Park campground on Wednesday evening encountered a man they suspected had eluded police, the Department of Anchorage Police (APD) in a press release.
“At some point during the encounter, the suspect pulled out a handgun and gunfire was exchanged,” police said.
One officer was seriously injured, while another escaped unscathed, police said. Both officers returned fire to the suspect. The suspect was shot multiple times, police said. The injured officer and suspect were taken to hospital and both are expected to survive.
Police did not identify the man but said he would face criminal charges. No details were given of any charges he might face.
The officers involved have been placed on administrative leave and will be identified in three days in accordance with police department policy. The state’s Office of Special Prosecutions (OSP) will review the officers’ use of force and determine if it was warranted.
The ministry’s internal affairs unit will then review to confirm if any policies have been violated. “Once the OSP completes its investigation, its findings will be made available to the public,” police said.
Anchorage Police Chief Michael Kerle told reporters Wednesday night that it was unclear who fired the first shot.
Witnesses told the Anchorage Daily News that they heard a deluge of gunfire around 8 p.m. A witness, Michael Baker, said he was camping in his Subaru Outback when he saw officers heading to a nearby campsite.
“My windows fogged up and the next thing I heard was gunshots,” Baker told the newspaper. “And then I got up and looked outside, and the policeman was down and the other policeman had the other guy on the ground. »
He said the officer pointed a gun at the man, who was on the ground next to a pickup truck.
More than 40 evidence markers surrounded the van, the Daily News reported, and it had shattered windows and visible bullet holes.
Centennial Park is being used as a sanctioned campground for homeless people after a mass shelter at Sullivan Arena closed in late June, according to the Daily News. City officials estimate that around 180 people have always stayed at the campground, while volunteers estimate the number to be over 200.
Over the past few weeks, elected officials, advocates and others have raised concerns about conditions and safety at the campsite.
A woman died of an overdose at the campsite last week. And a scuffle on Sunday sparked a major police response and led to officers being assaulted, police said.
Newsweek contacted the Anchorage Police Department and the office of Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson for comment.