Man and woman die in apparent murder-suicide; another wounded

Posted: Wednesday, February 28, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- An Anaktuvuk Pass man shot his estranged wife to death, then immediately turned the gun on himself before horrified bystanders in a motel parking lot, Fairbanks police say.

Benjamin A. Hopson Jr., 46, and Dorothy E. Hopson, 42, died Tuesday afternoon in front of the Klondike Inn office from rifle shots fired at close range, police said.

A third person, 43-year-old Teresa Gomez, was wounded when a bullet ricocheted and struck her in the chest, Fairbanks Police Sgt. Dan Welborn said.

Gomez, a clerk at the hotel, was able to walk to an ambulance. She was treated and released Tuesday night from Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, authorities said.

Police were called at 3:44 p.m. to the parking lot for a report of several shots fired. While en route, police were told by dispatch who received calls saying a man and woman were confirmed dead and several bystanders were shot in a domestic-related shooting, Welborn said.

''She (Dorothy Hopson) had come from out of town with the kids and they were going over to visit him (Benjamin Hopson). She was with a friend at the time when this all occurred,'' Welborn told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Both were dead by the time police arrived.

Taxi driver Peggy Giles was turning into the motel parking lot from the Airport Way access road when she heard a gunshot.

Giles said she saw three children running and a man and woman on the ground in front of the motel office, wrestling.

''He had a gun. I couldn't do anything,'' Giles said.

Instead, she got on her radio to taxi dispatch and told the dispatcher what was happening. After the first shot, Giles got out of her car with her cell phone and called 911 before hearing a second shot.

During the struggle, Giles said she saw a woman come running out of the office and held onto the door for a brief period, yelling at the couple before going back into the office.

Meanwhile, more shots were fired and Dorothy Hopson continued to struggle, Giles said.

''Four shots later, her feet stopped moving,'' Giles said. ''I heard another shot, then he went limp on top of her.''

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