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Alaska officials consider more charges in Safeway shooting

Police said Joshua Eric Butcher sprayed bullets throughout the Safeway store early Sunday evening.

By Mark Thiessen

Associated Press

ANCHORAGE — Authorities have released the name of the man shot and killed as he exited a grocery store in Fairbanks as the prosecutor said he is considering additional charges against the alleged shooter.

The victim was identified Tuesday as Harley Ray Titus, 41, of Fairbanks, police said in a statement.

Police said Joshua Eric Butcher, also 41, shot Titus, wounded another man and sprayed bullets throughout the Safeway store early Sunday evening. Police said they do not have a motive for the shooting.

Butcher has been charged with first-degree murder and was arraigned Monday. His bail was set at $10 million.

“This case is still under investigation,” Fairbanks District Attorney Joe Dallaire said in a statement Tuesday. “We are considering additional charges against Mr. Butcher and will continue working diligently with the Fairbanks Police Department in the interim.”

Butcher was assigned a public defender, and an email sent to the agency’s office in Fairbanks late Monday afternoon seeking comment was not immediately returned to The Associated Press.

In reviewing security footage from the store around the time of the shooting, police said it showed Titus “walking out of the south exit as the defendant briskly walked toward him and fired multiple shots into Titus’s body at close range,” according to a criminal complaint filed in the case. “The defendant did not break stride and continued into the store.”

The shooter then “fired multiple shots toward the north side of the store, causing multiple people to take cover and flee. Multiple gun defects were found on walls, checkout registers and banners throughout the store,” the complaint said.

A witness described hearing multiple shots fired, followed by the sound of the firearm being manipulated. More shots then were heard before the shooter left the store.

“Security footage then showed the defendant dropping an object where the firearm was later found,” the complaint said.

Police located a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun on the floor near the store’s entrance along with three magazines. Police also found multiple magazines with live rounds left in them, along with multiple spent and unspent 9 mm rounds scattered near the entrance.

About 11 minutes after the shooting, police said they received a call from Butcher who said he was outside the police department. He said he had been at Safeway, and officers could come outside and arrest him, according to statement from police. He also said he would not answer questions without an attorney present.

Police said they found an empty gun holster and empty magazine holders on him.

The other man injured in the shooting suffered a wound to a foot. He was located behind the customer service desk and was able to describe the shooter to police. He was taken to a hospital and later released.

Butcher will next appear in court Jan. 6 for a preliminary hearing.

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