ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A 37-year-old man was arraigned Friday on attempted murder and assault charges after authorities say he exchanged gunfire with police at an Anchorage hotel, wounding an officer who was working on a burglary investigation.
Jason Walter Barnum was arrested Friday morning after his release from a hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound to his arm. The heavily tattooed Anchorage man was ordered held on $500,000 cash-only bail.
Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew said at a news conference he could only speculate on why Barnum started firing at officers from a hotel room bathroom Thursday. He said Barnum was a heroin user who showed symptoms of drug use after the incident.
“Someone just blasting away from behind a door, that’s unusual,” Mew said. “And of course they responded in kind, rather quickly.”
One officer, whose name was not released, suffered a graze wound to his back.
The mayhem began at about 11:30 a.m.
Three officers were investigating vehicle break-ins and burglaries in south Anchorage. The burglaries occurred at homes where residents were present, Mew said.
Police spotted a vehicle connected to the burglaries in a parking lot near the hotel. They reviewed hotel surveillance video and saw a man carrying a tote from the vehicle to Room 209, charging documents said.
Officers went to the room to investigate. Once inside, they spotted a stolen gun, Mew said. They handcuffed a man in the room, Sam Williams Jr., and spoke to a woman, Stephanie Callis, who was making retching sounds and pretending to be sick in the bathroom, Mew said.
Officers ordered her out of the bathroom. As she emerged, Barnum began firing a stolen gun from behind her, prosecutors said. The officers fired back and exited, taking Williams and Callis with them.
One of their shots hit Barnum, fracturing his right arm, authorities said.
The report of an officer wounded drew a swarm of other officers to the scene. Police evacuated guests from other hotel rooms and closed Fifth Avenue, the main road leading from north Anchorage to downtown.
SWAT officers approached the hotel room at about 1 p.m. Officers spoke to Barnum through the door and he surrendered, Mew said.
The wounded man was cuffed with his arms behind him. He was then walked down to the ground level, placed on a stretcher and taken to the hospital.
All three people in the room had warrants out for their arrest, and Williams and Callis also were taken into custody. Lt. Anthony Henry, who oversees burglary investigations, said additional charges are pending.
Prosecutors said officers processing evidence in Room 209 found jewelry, jewelry boxes and other property in a backpack.
Barnum was arraigned Friday on one count of attempted murder and two counts of felony assault. He responded, “Sure, why not,” at the hearing when asked if he had read the criminal complaint and whether he wanted an attorney.
Barnum said he had not worked in the past six months. He was appointed a public defender.
The charging document said Barnum has previous convictions for burglary, forgery, theft, assault and resisting arrest.
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