Anchorage police investigate four homicides over three-day span

Anchorage Police Department downtown headquarters on June 9, 2020 (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

Four people died in Anchorage homicides from Thursday to Saturday, the deadliest stretch of 2020. But the year was marked by fewer homicides than usual, according to police.

At first, police reported a Thursday traffic fatality as a single-vehicle collision with a light pole on Dimond Boulevard. But the Chevy Tahoe’s driver was found to have a gunshot wound, and detectives viewing nearby surveillance video saw the driver of a Toyota Tundra shoot at the Tahoe, police said in a statement.

Police later announced they’d charged Patrick Tauanuu, 45, on murder charges and identified the victim as Maataua Manogiamanu, 49.

On Friday, another man died after being shot in the upper body on East Fourth Avenue, police said, identifying the victim as Jared Ward, 38. There have been no suspects or charges announced in that case.

Then, on Saturday, two people died in separate shootings less than an hour apart at the hands of the same man, according to police, who said officers responded to a reported shooting about 10:40 a.m. on Lane Street and found a man dead with gunshots to his upper body.

About 11:30 a.m., officers responded to a shooting on Peterkin Avenue and discovered a woman who’d also been shot in the upper body, police said in a statement. Paramedics rushed her to a hospital, but police announced about five hours later that she had died.

On Sunday, police announced they had arrested Al Leafa Jr., 26, and charged him with murder in both deaths. Only the female victim has been identified so far: Police named her as Kikono Savo, 38.

The four deaths since Thursday bring the total number of homicides in Anchorage this year to 16, not counting two officer-involved shooting investigations. The city averaged nearly 34 homicides per year from 2017 to 2019.