'He just started screaming 'kill me.'' Witnesses describe trooper-involved shooting

Published: Jun. 3, 2016 at 3:44 PM AKDT
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Witnesses of the shooting of Joshua Smith in the Mat-Su say the encounter with troopers escalated rapidly and neighbors had prepared to help with first aid.

Smith died in an Anchorage hospital this morning after receiving multiple gunshot wounds.

“He [Smith] was just walking up and down on the side of my house by the stop sign,” says Deborah Amos. She has been a neighbor of the Smith family since they moved to the neighborhood in 2005 and saw the beginning of the dispute from her front porch.

Kaitlyn Shepard and Sydney Arbeit, both 15, were on the other side of the intersection. They describe watching Smith walk the streets, while fighting with a woman.

“We just kept watching and the girlfriend was just asking him to please get in the car with his dad," the teens said.

Amos says she wasn’t too concerned with Smith’s behavior. She heard through the neighborhood that Smith and his wife were talking about divorce, and having gone through one herself, Amos says she understands the emotional turmoil it can cause.

“Josh wasn’t hurting nobody, he was just out here, a little upset about family things but just walking on the street right there. “ That’s when Amos went inside and closed the door.

Shepard and Arbreit saw the escalation. “More police came out and like were around him, and then he just got all, like. angry, and that’s when he pulled out his knife," Shepard said.

"At first he had it to his throat and he turned ... and started running towards the cops and they started shooting at him,” Shepard said.

The noise alerted neighbor Carli Goeman. “I heard four shots. Bang bang bang bang.”

Shepard says Smith didn’t go down right away. “Then they Tased him too, because he wouldn’t let go of his knife."

The two teenagers saw the stunned reaction of the woman who had been arguing with Smith. At first, Shepard and Arbreit say, she grabbed a dog who had been with Smith.

“She saw all the blood and then she sort of collapsed on the ground and was like crying, and she was like. 'I love you I’m so sorry,' and then she was pleading with the police to make him stop, like telling them to stop hurting him," one of the teens said. "Then he just started screaming 'kill me.'”

Amos came back outside once she heard the shots, and saw Smith on the ground surrounded by officers. She says she was a nurse for over 30 years, and immediately wanted to begin medical care.

“I ran inside and got boxes of boxes of sterile 4X4s and towels, and I called over to the policeman and they took that and they were putting it on his wound.”

She isn’t sure how long it took for medics and a helicopter to arrive, but she wishes they had come sooner.

Shepard and Arbeit say that they are still reeling from the aftermath.

“We found out that he died today and it was sort of heartbreaking a little bit. Because it was just really sad that it had to happen like that,” Arbreit said Friday.

Amos says she barely slept last night thinking about her neighbor, Josh, lying in the hospital. She says she was thinking about his wife, and their daughter. She spoke to Channel 2 because she wants people to know that she believes Josh was a good person who lost control.

“I just wanted to make sure people know Josh was not a crazy, wild, maniac type person.”