Charges: Anchorage man argued with homeless people before returning and opening fire

A broken window on the side of a tan building with two people sitting on the street corner nearby
A makeshift memorial near the location where Jaclyn Welcome was fatally shot early in the morning on Saturday, June 19, 2021 (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

An Anchorage man argued with a group of homeless people in downtown Anchorage on Friday before returning to the area early the next morning with a gun, killing one woman and wounding several others, according to charging documents released Monday. 

Police arrested 21-year-old Anthony Lee Herring late Saturday. He’s charged with killing 37-year-old Jaclyn Welcome, and he faces attempted murder charges for shooting four other people.

According to the charges, someone called 911 around 2:45 a.m. Saturday and reported the shooting near 4th Avenue and Gambell Street.

Responding officers found four people shot, and got reports of a fifth person who had walked into a nearby hotel and was bleeding from a gunshot wound to the head, said the charges.

The charges do not say whether Herring knew the five people he shot.

In a briefing with reporters on Saturday, Anchorage Police Chief Kenneth McCoy said it wasn’t clear whether the victims were targeted or if they were caught in crossfire. 

“What we do know is there was a large group gathered there this morning when shots were fired,” McCoy said. “Multiple people were hit, and we’re still trying to determine the motive of the shooting and whether the victims were the intended targets.”

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According to the charging document, witnesses told police they’d seen a distinctive gray SUV in the area right before the shooting, and they believed it belonged to an employee of a nearby Tesoro gas station. Witnesses also said they’d spotted the same employee, later identified as Herring, in a fight on Friday with a group of homeless people “who had been throwing knives at a nearby pole.”

Herring initially told police that he’d been at home all evening Friday and hadn’t driven his vehicle, according to the charges.

But, he later changed his story when he was shown video of what appeared to be his car pulling up to his apartment around 3 a.m. Saturday, the charges said. He then told police that he and his girlfriend had been driving around smoking marijuana, but that he had nothing to do with the shooting. 

A gas station garage next to a parking lot in front of a tan building where people are gathered
A parking lot on Gambell between 4th and 5th Avenue where a gunman killed one woman and seriously injured four others on Saturday, June 19, 2021. 21-year-old Anthony Lee Herring, who worked at the nearby Tesoro gas station, was charged in the shooting. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

According to charges, Herring’s girlfriend also spoke with police. She told them she and Herring ended up at the Tesoro gas station, where Herring worked, on Friday night. She said that Herring complained about the homeless people nearby and “expressed anger and frustration at them.”

“She stated that while sitting in his truck, they heard a shot nearby that sounded close,” said the charging document. “She stated she dove into the backseat to hide, and she heard multiple shots being fired from the truck she was in.”

According to the charges, she later admitted to police that she knew Herring had fired the shots from the truck. They drove back to Herring’s apartment, and she said Herring did not talk about the shooting.

Police say Welcome died of her injuries from the shooting. The four others shot were seriously injured and underwent surgery.

Herring is being held at the Anchorage Correctional Complex. He faces nine felony charges related to the shooting, including for first-degree murder.

This story has been updated with additional information.