Man killed at Fairbanks store ‘doing nothing more than walking outside with his groceries,’ says mayor

A photograph of a smiling man, with a flower border around it.
Harley Ray Titus was killed in a shooting at Safeway in Fairbanks. This is the image on a poster for a vigil held for Titus at the store on Nov. 12, 2021. (Screenshot)

A candlelight vigil was held Friday at a Fairbanks Safeway store where Harley Ray Titus was fatally shot last week.

Video of the vigil posted by organizer Peter Captain Jr. shows a large group gathered around the store’s doorway where Titus was killed.

“Harley was doing nothing more than walking outside with his groceries, and it was so unexpected and so tragic,” said City of Fairbanks Mayor Jim Matherly.

Listen to this story:

Police say Titus, 41, was shot by Joshua Eric Butcher, who also fired inside the store, injuring a Safeway employee. Butcher then turned himself in at the police station.

Butcher is a former Safeway employee, according to his Facebook page, but it’s not known what motivated the shooting. 

Titus’ family told the Anchorage Daily News that Titus had walked to the grocery store last Sunday to grab a few things. He was shot walking out of the store. He was described as an easygoing man who loved the outdoors and worked as a wildland firefighter.

At the vigil, Matherly, the mayor, described the shooting as senseless. He pledged to assist law enforcement in prosecuting the case.

“I will work as closely as I can with the police department and the DA’s office to make sure this is brought to justice, just as all of you would like,” he said.

Butcher is charged with first-degree murder. 

An online fundraiser has raised more than $18,000 for Titus’ burial in his home village of Minto, as well as for a son, Raymond, he leaves behind.  

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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