The Alaska State Troopers are continuing the investigation into the March 1 shooting of Jason Karlo Anderson at Homer Municipal Airport. The investigation could take anywhere from several weeks to a few months, said trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson. The Alaska Bureau of Investigation office in Anchorage, the main branch of the troopers’ detective bureau, is investigating the shooting.
Anderson, 31, shot himself March 1 when two U.S. Marshals and four Homer Police officers attempted to apprehend him on a felony arrest warrant for drug trafficking out of Minnesota. Police and marshals surrounded Anderson while he was in a rental Jeep with his two children in the airport parking lot. The shooting happened at about 6 p.m. while members of a choir group headed to Italy were waiting to board an outbound Era Aviation flight, with about 100 choir members, family and friends at the terminal.
The U.S. Marshals office released the names this week of the two marshals involved. They are Deputy U.S. Marshal John Olson, 36, and Deputy U.S. Marshal Kevin Guinn, 40. Olson has seven years experience with the U.S. Marshals Service and Guinn has 16.
The Homer Police officers involved were Sgt. Will Hutt, Sgt. David Shealy, Sgt. Lary Kuhns and Officer Stacy Luck. Hutt, Shealy and Luck all fired their handguns.
An autopsy showed Anderson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound and was shot numerous times by three officers and a marshal. Troopers have not released information on the sequence of the shots.
Anderson’s 2-year-old son, Jason Anderson Jr., was severely injured from a gunshot wound to the head. The boy remains in critical condition at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. Anderson”s 6-month-old daughter, Darla, was not hurt. The children are in state custody.
“The city of Homer deeply regrets the loss of life and the injuries sustained by Jason Anderson II,” Homer City Manager Walt Wrede said in a statement released last week. “The city extends its heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the friends and family of the deceased and his son.”
The mother of Anderson’s children, Cherry Dietzmann, had told the Anchorage Daily News that Anderson beat her and threatened her. She left Anderson several weeks ago.
In Anderson”s obituary, his mother, Mary Anderson of Sevierville, Tenn., said her son had lived in Homer for approximately a year. Police said Anderson had been here the last two or three months.
A loosely knit group of citizens planned to hold a town meeting Wednesday night at Land’s End to discuss the shooting. Peter Nagle, the Homer resident who organized the meeting, called it an open-ended forum for people concerned about issues raised by the shooting.
“Nothing has evolved in terms of a forum for people to air their concerns,” he said. “I wanted to provide that.”
Wrede asked the public to reserve judgment and refrain from speculation until the trooper investigation is complete. The city administration will have no further comment until the investigation is complete, he said.
“There is a significant amount of information about this operation that has not yet been released to the public or is still under investigation,” Wrede said. “It would be inappropriate for the city to comment further on this while an official investigation is being conducted by the Alaska State Troopers.”
Wrede said the city has confidence in the police department and the officers involved. He called the Homer Police Department “one of the most professional, disciplined and well-trained police departments of any city of similar size in America.”
Nagle questioned the appropriateness of having one law enforcement agency investigate other police agencies. He said that even though the Alaska Department of Law would review the investigation, it would be looking at a potentially biased report.
“When police investigate the police it’s almost irrelevant,” he said. “As much as they’re trying to be nonpartisan, it’s the same house.”
Nagle said questioning the shooting should not be seen as an attack against the police.
“I know our local police are good guys,” he said. “I know they wouldn’t have done anything like this if they knew children were involved.”
What direction the group will take depends on what people discussed at Wednesday’s meeting. He said it was too early to tell and did not know what other avenues citizens might want to pursue.
“A citizen overview board, or a group of people looking over this and being critical, is for the betterment of our institutions,” he said.
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