Anchorage: Murder, mayhem - Must Read Alaska
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Monday, October 25, 2021
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Anchorage: Murder, mayhem

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Last week, Anchorage resident Paula Zorawski opened the door to her Russian Jack home to see what was going on outside. She was shot in the head.

Zorawski has since died,  becoming the 27th murder victim in Anchorage this year.

Nineteen-year-old Alonzo Steward, who had been sought in connection with the shooting, turned himself in and has been charged with second-degree murder.

Earlier, police arrested 18-year-olds Michael Fitzgerald, Savon Berry, and Tommy Hunter Higgs III on assault, robbery, and drug possession charges in relation to the crime.

Anchorage is trending higher for violent crimes, with one murder occurring every 10 days in 2016.  More of it looks like gangster crime, The city is three homicides away from a new annual homicide death toll.

According to court documents, the men were after drugs and money, but they ran after they shot Zorawski, who may not have been the intended victim.

Mayor Ethan Berkowitz has struggled to make good on his campaign promise of “Safe and Secure” Anchorage. Three homicide cases involved two victims each, all occurring on urban trails and all remaining unsolved.

The mayor and Police Chief Chris Tolley struggled to answer basic questions about those killings, and dodged questions about whether there is a serial killer stalking Anchorage, in this KTUU interview.

While he was running for office, Berkowitz said, “This is what happens when you reduce a visible police presence. You’re going to have more crime, more dangerous streets.”

Berkowitz promised a force of at least 400 officers, a 20% increase. He also promised community policing.

But 17 months into his first term, the violent death toll has only risen, and residents are anxious about using the once-popular urban trails.

Berkowitz has blamed former Mayor Dan Sullivan for trimming the police force. But homicide rates were at a 20-year low in 2014 under the Sullivan administration, only rising in 2015, when 16 homicides were recorded.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

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