JUNEAU — The newly elected mayor of Alaska’s capital city appears to have died from natural causes, police said Wednesday.
Police announced the preliminary findings shortly after an autopsy was completed on the body of 70-year-old Mayor Stephen “Greg” Fisk. The final autopsy report, which will include toxicology results, will take weeks to complete, officials said.
“According to the findings, the external injuries sustained by Mayor Fisk were consistent with an injury due to falling or stumbling into objects. No foul play is indicated,” police said in a statement ahead of a news conference in Juneau.
Police Chief Bryce Johnson told reporters that Fisk, who went by Greg, had a history of heart problems. He said it’s believed that Fisk had some issues with his heart and fell.
Police had been awaiting autopsy results to announce a possible cause of death for Fisk, who was elected in October. There was no sign of forced entry into Fisk’s home above Juneau’s downtown, where he was found Monday. Police initially ruled out gunshots, drugs or suicide in the death.
In a statement Monday night, police acknowledged rumors of an assault but called those rumors “speculation.” The department fielded media inquiries from around the country, police spokeswoman Erann Kalwara said Tuesday. Sometimes, it’s obvious at the scene that a person died of natural causes. “In this case, we just can’t confirm that yet or rule anything out,” she said Tuesday afternoon.
Johnson defended his department’s response on Wednesday. No one had witnessed the death, and when the first person to find Fisk, his son, saw the injuries and blood at the scene “the first assumption was someone had done something to him,” Johnson said.
Police proceeded not knowing the cause and had an obligation to rule out all the possibilities, Johnson said. He said he noted multiple times that it also was possible that Fisk had fallen. But there was a period of time where authorities didn’t have answers.
“And people being people, they run with the unknown for that couple of days, and it’s Juneau, Alaska, it’s an exotic location. It’s a newly elected mayor. And so it was an intriguing story,” he said. It was a tragic story for the family and for Juneau, he said.
Fisk had scheduled appointments Monday and when he missed them, his adult son, Ian, went to his father’s home. Fisk lived alone.
Fisk, a fisheries consultant, was sworn in as mayor in October after ousting the incumbent. Deputy Mayor Mary Becker was named acting mayor.
Ian Fisk previously stated in an email that his family is grieving privately.
Dan Joling contributed to this report from Anchorage, Alaska.