Chief Tolley: Gun used to shoot police officer tied to five Anchorage homicides

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A Colt Python 357 revolver used to wound an Anchorage police officer during an early Saturday morning shootout is the same firearm used in five Anchorage homicides this year, police chief Chris Tolley said Tuesday.

Click through the timeline below to see which homicides have been connected to the revolver and what evidence investigators found at the crime scenes. While police have linked the same firearm to each of the five killings, they have not definitively said the man shot and killed by police, 40-year-old James Dale Ritchie, was the triggerman in the fatal shootings. The investigations continue.

Mary Turner, mother of 34-year-old shooting victim Kevin Turner, said she was glad to have apparent answers in the case, but it was hard to know how to feel.

"To find out that my son got murdered by somebody that he didn't even know or even met ... There's no meaning to it," she said.

The new piece of evidence came to light at around 4:30 a.m. Saturday when Anchorage police were notified that a man had walked away from a taxi cab without paying his fare in the area of 4th Avenue and B Street.

The suspect, now identified by police as former East High athlete Ritchie, was seen by patrol officer Arn Salao walking westbound on 5th Avenue near Cordova Street, police said. Officer Salao tried to stop Ritchie and speak with him but Ritchie ignored Salao’s requests and kept walking.

“The male ignored Officer Salao and he continued on foot. Officer Salao pulled his vehicle over to the southside of 5th Avenue near the suspect in an attempt to make contact with him again,” police wrote.

“The male turned, firing a gun at Officer Salao multiple times.”

Police say Salao got out of his patrol car and returned fire. During the exchange of gunfire, Sergeant Marc Patzke with APD’s K9 unit arrived on scene and fired at the suspect as well. After being shot, Ritchie fell on top of Salao and continued fighting, police said.

The officers were able to subdue Ritchie and began administering first aid. He was later declared dead at the scene, police said.

Officer Salao meanwhile was transported to a local hospital where he underwent two emergency surgeries for multiple gunshot wounds. According to Chief Tolley, Salao is out of intensive care and is recovering.

Investigators say this driver’s license photo of James Dale Ritchie closely resembles the composite sketch of the sketch of the suspect in the murder of Treyveonkindell Thompson on July 29. Photos from Anchorage Police Department.

The firearm Ritchie used to shoot officer Salao, a Colt Python 357, is the same firearm used in one homicide and two double homicides in Anchorage this year, investigators say. The homicides connected to Ritchie’s gun are listed as follows:

Police say investigators are hoping to develop more information on Ritchie and are asking anyone with information on these incidents to contact them at 786-8900 or submit an anonymous tip on anchoragecrimestoppers.com.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.



 
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