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UPDATE: Police release names of officers involved in Hillside standoff

 Robert W. Musser
Robert W. Musser (KTUU)
Published: Sep. 23, 2016 at 5:18 PM AKDT
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Monday 5:30 p.m. UPDATE:

Anchorage police have released the names of the six officers who fired their weapons during a standoff at a residence on Ginami Street last Thursday.

The officers who fired their weapons are:

Robert Wurst

Steven Childers

Matthew Barth

Daniel Henegar

Jason Penman

Seth McMillan

Because the officers fired weapons, it is considered an officer-involved shooting. The officers were placed on four days of administrative leave.

The Office of Special Prosecutions will determine if the officers’ use of force was justified. APD’s Office of Professional Responsibility will determine if the officers’ actions were within department policy.

Anchorage police said Monday it's unknown whether any of the officers’ shots injured the barricaded shooting suspect, 69-year-old Robert Musser. The investigation into the standoff and Musser’s death is ongoing, police said.

ORIGINAL STORY (from September 23)

Six Anchorage police officers have been placed on administrative leave after exchanging gunfire with a man involved in an armed standoff that gripped Anchorage’s Upper Hillside for about 42 hours.

Robert W. Musser, 69, was found dead inside his Ginamo Street home just before 3 a.m. on Friday after SWAT teams, using heavy machinery, tore into the house and discovered his body. Musser had twice fired on police, injuring two officers, over the course of the standoff which began on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

Anchorage Police Chief Chris Tolley called the death a "heartbreaking" resolution to the encounter.

It’s unclear when Musser died or how but the last contact officers had with him was during a burst of gunfire shortly after noon on Thursday, according to police.

Tolley told reporters Friday that Musser opened fire on officers at 12:12 p.m. Six officers returned fire and retreated. One officer was struck in the face by bullet fragments from Musser’s weapon. The officer was taken to the hospital and later released. Another suffered minor injuries to his hand from Musser’s gunfire.

Because police fired their weapons during the response, it is considered an officer-involved shooting and subject to investigation by the Office of Special Prosecutions to determine if the use of force was justified, Tolley said.

The officers will be on leave for four days.

Police used a range of tactics to try to end the standoff peacefully. They included tear gas, flashbang devices, loud music, robotics, and negotiations over a loud speaker speaker system. Nothing worked.

Tolley said Musser’s house was very cluttered which made the police response difficult and prolonged.

“There were a lot of items in the yard and about the house, as well as inside the house. There were a lot, a lot of obstacles that made this quite challenging for law enforcement,” he said.

The A-frame house, located at 12740 Ginami Street, is in a steep, wooded neighborhood called Hillside East. On a real estate website, the property is listed as having a foreclosure agent.

The trouble began when Musser, a veteran who apparently lived alone, fired three rounds at tree cutters working on a power line easement in front of his home at 9:30 a.m., according to police and court papers.

Police attempted to contact Musser by telephone but could not reach him. They set up a perimeter near the home and called in APD’s SWAT team at 11:30 a.m.

Over the next several hours they tried to get Musser to surrender. At 2:30 p.m. they heard Musser yelling inside the home and telling officers to go away. An hour later they warned him that they would deploy gas to get him out. At 4 p.m. he came outside and fired multiple rounds at police.

They did not shoot back, Tolley said.

Police continued to use various strategies to end the standoff, including bringing heavy equipment in at 11:30 a.m on Thursday to tear down a side of the house. Musser stuck his head out the window at that point and a short time later starting cursing and yelling at officers.

Shots rang out at 12:12 p.m. During the exchange of gunfire, SWAT and police officers were seeing running down the road toward the house. An ambulance left a short time later without flashing lights or sirens.

Officers with the Alaska State Trooper’s Special Emergency Reaction Team and the FBI’s SWAT team arrived later in the afternoon to help with efforts to end the standoff. Heavy machinery tore down more of the house and Musser’s body was discovered at 2:48 a.m.

Tolley said police had made four welfare checks on Musser in August and early September.

“Each time officers attempted to contact Musser, he would yell through his window that he was fine, alive, and would demand that our officers leave,” the chief said.

Police had a crisis intervention officer do a follow-up check but Musser declined any help.

Neighbors said Musser’s dog, Shinto, died recently and that the man’s mental state seemed to deteriorate in the aftermath of the loss.

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