Man shot by Anchorage police identified as Tok resident Sean Burke


A man identified as Sean M. Burke, who had a rough history with the law, was fatally shot by police early on the morning of July 2, following an encounter on a Glenn Highway exit ramp.

Burke was armed with a rifle and had approached officers at the scene, prompting one of them to open fire in self-defense. The incident occurred while the officers were responding to a shots-fired call in the area.

The confrontation unfolded at approximately 5:39 am when two mid-shift patrol officers noticed a blue SUV pulled over on the outbound Glenn Highway exit ramp leading to the South Birchwood exit.

Upon approaching the vehicle, they encountered Burke, who was standing outside the SUV with the rear hatch open, holding a rifle. The suspect then advanced towards the officers, his rifle in hand.

One of the officers discharged his firearm, striking Burke at least once in the upper body. During the course of administering first aid efforts to Burke, authorities discovered a handgun on Burke’s person. He was transported to a nearby hospital by AFD medics but was pronounced dead a short time later. None of the officers involved sustained any injuries during the incident.

The motive behind Burke’s actions and any connection to the earlier shots-fired call remain unknown. As part of the standard protocol, the state’s Office of Special Prosecutions will conduct a review of the officer’s use of force to determine its justification.

Burke, of Tok, had been in trouble many times, most recently in June of 2022 for driving under the influence and having a weapon on him while intoxicated, as well as violating conditions of his release for previous charges.

In that instance, several people had called Troopers to report a Ford Explorer had swerved and nearly caused several head-on collisions on the Tok Cutoff. When Troopers came upon the Explorer, they had found Burke slumped over the steering wheel, unconscious and unresponsive, with his foot on the brake but the vehicle still in gear. In that encounter, Troopers placed the Explorer in “park” and woke up Burke, who was placed under arrest.


    • If you’re responding to a shots fired call in the wee hours, it’s very different than if you encounter hunters in the woods. I promise you that.

      The cop’s protocol is to control the contact and preferably remove their firearm or other weapons from the equation. It’s generally very low key and 99% of everyone is willfully compliant and usually everyone gets to go home.

      If you have a firearm on you and show any signs of intoxication, well hopefully you’re not so drunk that you’re stupid too.

      Good rule is, if you’re going to be drinking, put the guns away.

  1. I was wondering what the approximately THIRTY cop cars were doing on the side of the Glenn Highway early yesterday morning as I drove by!

    You NEVER used to see this kind of extreme overreaction, with a grossly excessive number of police cars and officers involved in a single situation, until recent years. And it only seems to happen when a cop is fired upon, or hit, or threatened. I guess the average Joe’s life is not nearly as important to the cops as is another cop’s life.

    • Thirty? On that I call BS.

      Call me highly skeptical.

      Yes, there would be plenty of flashing lights, If for no other reason besides all the supervisors, investigators, techs, etc. arriving.

      Thirty cops? Huh, no. There aren’t even that many marked patrol units on at any given moment in all of Anchorage.

      And also, gee. Do you have any co-workers in emergency services? Go to an E.R. as a patient while also being an employee there. Yeah, believe me, friends actually ARE more important than strangers, go figure.

      So, as for people actually liking and respecting the people they work with, that must be a new concept for you.

    • Kind of a myopic way of looking at it. You give a vague scenario and assign gilt and victimhood to justify your stance. But aside from inuendo offer nothing toward evidence.
      Cops have ALWAYS responded to “shots fired” calls in number. It is a standard tactic.

      • Not in numbers remotely approaching what I saw on Sunday morning, Richard.
        And I have seen MANY police responses to crimes, and shootings. And yes, they usually do respond in numbers to such situations, but NOT in THESE kinds of numbers. I swear, I think that virtually every police car in the Anchorage area was responding to this incident.

        I have only seen two other such instances of extreme police responses to a shooting, and in both cases, it was in response to the threatened or actual shooting of a police officer. It disturbs me that they apparently feel that THEIR lives are more important than anyone else’s — they are not. And it should disturb anyone who does not reflexively bow to state power, and to state minions.

    • Considering the way modern society treats cops, it’s hard to blame them for being skeptical of us and showing up in force when threatened.

      • TMA, I do not automatically disparage the police, but nor do I automatically and bow to them in abject submission, either. Clearly, they put themselves on a level above other citizens, and I think that is wrong, as well as a dangerous mindset.

      • APD has had questionable responses in the past, i can recall where they shot and killed a guy brandishing a broom handle on the other side of a fence a few years back. Police today tend to overreact, and in many cases violate people’s rights all in the name of officer safety. they have no fear because they are not held to account for when they do wrong, heck they will lie and protect each other when they know they have done wrong. doesn’t that say something? qualified immunity needs to be revisited and police need to be held accountable when they break the law.

  2. This is sad, Sean was a good man. Please don’t slander his name with past infractions. Sure doesn’t seem the intention of law enforcement is to serve and protect anymore.

      • Whether he was or wasn’t I don’t think Courtview is the place to define that.

        He had issues with being drunk, driving like an idiot, and always having a firearm with him.

        By the way, those MIW 4th (drunk with gun) charges are often a LEO finding a firearm anywhere in the vehicle while making a DUI arrest. Not usually and not exactly a drunk running around with guns in hands. Hard telling, wasn’t there.

        Good or bad? Hard telling. Definitely had poor judgment.

        • “……Good or bad? Hard telling…….”
          Good: “to be desired or approved of.”
          Bad: “of poor quality or a low standard.”
          Words have meaning. Confusing the meanings of words in one’s mind is the beginning of trouble. Me. Burke maintained behavior which was “of poor quality or low standard”. He resisted reform. It ended up causing his demise. It was NOT good.

    • He doesn’t seem to fit your description based on current and past encounters w/ law enforcement. What had he done that in your mind offsets his police record and why would it be ok to advance on a cop with a drawn weapon?

      If I had to choose between the two I’d choose the cop. Would you not?

    • Let’s be fair here. Slander is printing or saying unflattering things about someone that are known to be unfounded. Printing info found in public records is far from slander.

    • Only a complete idiot keeps a firearm in hand and at the ready when approached by cops. Alcohol kills brain cells too.

    • So you would rather they wait until he shoots one of the officers before they can return fire? You have no idea what’s going on in his head and they were responding to reports of shots fired in the area. If you encounter someone on the street with a firearm and you had yours too, I guarantee you would’ve reacted the same way if they started approaching you with that firearm. It’s easy to sit in a place of safety and comment when you don’t have all the facts and circumstances.

    • Seems you lost a friend. Sorry for your loss. But “serve and protect” does not seem to mean what you think it means. The general idea is they serve and protect those that would be victims of your friend. In this case, at least as far as the information leads us, they seem to have done an outstanding job.
      Again. Sorry for your loss.

    • Sean may very well had the opportunity to be a good man.

      But without proper guidance when growing up poor decisions and bad choices can shadow the good and portray him as a person who repeats many of the same mistakes repeatedly.

      I just dont think people naturally grow up making poor choices completely on their own

      I can only hope that other youth his age can understand what brought the tragic end to his life.
      I also hope that parents especially fathers take an active role in guiding their offspring to help prevent these horrible situations.
      It is sad the families and community has to witness these tragedies especially in public for the young children who dont understand the force law enforcement must use to keep everyone including themselves safe.

      I certainly wouldnt want to be the police officer who has to make those split second decisions.

      More importantly I wouldnt want to be the parent who receives the call from law enforcement informing the demise of a child.

      I believe children are a reflection of the guidance of parents and surrounding community.
      I also believe that to be true for all offspring as well as Hunter Biden.
      He didnt get where he is at on his own.

  3. Perhaps the rationale for all the officers at the scene on a Sunday morning has to do with ensuring that the issue is fully detailed and investigated. Some have said that it was a ‘death by cop’ scenario. Suicide is tragic, no matter the circumstances.

  4. But also one should never pull a weapon against an officer. It’s a lack of respect and disregard for life of the officer. Officers have feelings and their lives to protect too, they can’t protect their own life too? If only he wasn’t carry a weapon (a hand gun, sword, long stick, broom, chainsaw, rifle, or anything that can be wielded and cause a blunt injury). There is an anchorage church sign I passed today ‘if the living (that’s us) knew what the dead (the deceased) knows, then they be following Jesus.’ Wherever this David is now, he’d be hoping those he left will honor his memory making happy choices and it appreciate and celebrate their own lives and the lives around them. If they received Jesus and began pointing others to the one who saves, they’d be honoring their friend’s life better than avenging his death.

    • The cops approached him when he already had his firearm out should ever approach a person with a fire on and if you know the person or maybe call out and Ask her what how do we know he wasnt the victim and was shot at he could’ve been the one that called 911 and he was just responding or returning fire fact is the officers didn’t try to find out they shot first asked no questions later that’s not what their job entitles or how they are supposed to respond in that type of situation. Call Kevin 5 miles down the road that had stopped at approached him on The side of the road

  5. Prevo sermon made mentioned point Alcohol has killed more lives than anyone or anything. When you been drinking alcohol __________ (fill in the blank). Smarter to drink Martinelli sparkling apple juice.

    • Apfelschorle. Super easy to make at home and it’s amazingly good in the summertime. I’m pretty sure they served it in the bible. Martinelli’s was also mentioned in the bible. 2 Kings 18:27 IIRC. The translation is rough but it’s there for biblical scholars to understand.

  6. Here’s a hot tip: When a cop tells you to drop the weapon, go ahead and do it.

  7. The cop didn’t know who he was at the time of the encounter,he didn’t even tell him to drop the gun,sounds like the officer panicked and gun him down.Sean was a good man, everyone has a past don’t judge a man by court view,you didn’t know him.

    • What a poorly considered comment. The fact that you have a court view past is an indication that you likely have been objectively judged prior and should use that past as a basis of understanding now.

  8. First off, a cop doesn’t have to take the time to tell someone to “drop the gun” if he feels it’s an imminent threat.

    Think about it, take the time to yell that just to be shot in mid-sentence?

    Nope, someone going from guard to pointed in gets shot every time and rightfully so. Doesn’t matter who it is. End of story on that.

    Why do you say he didn’t warn him? Were you there? Are you an eyewitness? Or are you repeating the story told by some internet wacko?

    You’re probably right, I bet the cops didn’t know who he was. It also doesn’t make any difference, cops don’t know most of.the people they meet every day. If you want a cop to get to know you, don’t behave in a way that gets you shot.

    • really, so does a citizen have the same authority to shoot and kill? so, if a cop points a gun at an innocent person, does that person have the right to defend themselves? there are stories about police entering the wrong house and shooting the innocent person inside. The article reads the police encountered him holding a rifle, then he advanced towards them. It does not state that he threatened them by pointing the rifle, advanced to me means he started walking towards the police, not necessarily threatening them. maybe people should better understand the circumstances that occurred before passing judgement. but whatever the facts are, i am confident that the police will be found innocent and returned to service, they always do for the most part.

      • Then go get involved in your local city council. Most of Anchorage’s officers are following their training and using good discernment. However there are supervisors and some officers usually sargents whom when I came across are questionable but also in respect of their authority and leadership I talk little to them if I encounter one and do what he or she says just to get them away quicker cause there something about them I don’t trust. In my twenty years living as an adult I seen when a community elects democrat head leaders like a mayor plus Dem assembly members the police are different than while that leader is like Mayor Bronson background leading the departments. I tell you if Tuck or Lafrance are Anchorage’s next mayor. as a woman and single mother I don’t look forward to subtle changes I will again see in APD behavior as I seen under Berkowitz and Begich leadership. For one thing there again be more sting (tyrannical ) operations. I’ll be living my life more cautious than I do since Mayor Bronson was sworn into office. My childhood town was and still is a democrat controlled town and police department they different than towns controlled by a solid Red leadership who know their republican values and history and don’t compromise on their values and history. We still have to respect the leadership over us cause it goes back to honor thy father and mother even while they are wrong. If you AKMAN and other dissenting voices here want to better protect us like single parents or other types parents right to raise our children how we see fit w/0 fear doing something ignorant and a police being used by OCS to take our kids away. then get involved in your neighborhood council and work your way up into city governance to counter the current democrat leadership over Anchorage.

  9. There’s essentially no difference in the requirements for a use of force in self defense (as opposed to use of force to effect an arrest, which is not at issue here) to be justified between law enforcement and non-LEO under Alaska law (and pretty much everywhere else in the US and the Western world).

    The 5 Elements are Innocence, Imminence, Avoidance, Proportionality, and Reasonableness.

    A police officer approaching a person in the performance of their duty is a legally Innocent party. They are no more required to attempt to Avoid the requirement to use defensive force than anyone else in a similar situation. A rifle is by definition a deadly force threat, therefore defensive deadly force is inherently Proportionate. If a person faces an objectively and subjectively Reasonably perceived Imminent threat then using force is an objectively and subjectively Reasonable response.

    The only potential real question is one of Imminence, which is often described using the “AOJ Triad”, Ability, Opportunity, and Jeopardy. Ability: does the perceived aggressor have the physical capability of carrying out the threatened assault? Opportunity: does the perceived aggressor have the physical opportunity to carry out the threatened assault? Jeopardy, by the totality of the circumstances known to the defender, has the perceived aggressor made clear, by actions and words, that they intend to carry out the perceived assault?

    A man with a rifle within eyesight of another person clearly has the Ability and Opportunity to reach out and harm that person at ranges of several hundred yards, so those two elements are not really in doubt. What the officer who used force will have to do is articulate how, in the moment they chose to fire, given the totality of the circumstances as they understood them, Burke had created an objectively and subjectively Reasonably perceived sense of imminent Jeopardy.

  10. My husband awoke around 5am to all the shooting that Sunday. The young man shot his rifle at least 4 times with a 5 min pause in between. Then there were 7 rapid shots (the police officer). Sigh. Such an awful thing for all. He was the same age as my oldest son! I am still upset. Why did he not put his gun down? I feel so bad for the family. For all!

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