A man who allegedly engaged Anchorage police in a Thursday shootout near Merrill Field that left both him and an APD officer wounded was a heroin addict firing a gun stolen during burglaries and vehicle break-ins on the Anchorage Hillside, according to charging documents released Friday.
Jason Barnum, 37, has been charged with first-degree attempted murder and two counts of third-degree assault following the shootout and standoff at the Merrill Field Inn, at 420 Sitka St. Barnum surrendered to police shortly after 1:15 p.m. Thursday and was taken to the hospital under APD escort; he was arrested Friday upon his release.
According to the charging documents (PDF), an investigation into the burglaries and break-ins led officers to the inn on Wednesday, shortly before 11:30 a.m.
“A vehicle associated with the break-ins was located in the parking lot near the inn,” prosecutors wrote. “Police then reviewed a surveillance video from the Inn’s surveillance system and saw a man associated with Room 209 taking a tote from the vehicle into Room 209, and later to a dumpster.”
When three police officers went to the room to investigate, it contained three people -- Barnum, as well as Stephanie Callis and Sam Williams Jr., all of whom had warrants for their arrest. Callis later told police that all three were aware of officers’ arrival.
“What happens next is confusing,” prosecutors wrote. “Once officers got into the room, Williams stalled while police began discussing the reason they were at Room 209. Williams told police that the woman in the bathroom was sick and behind the closed bathroom door, Callis began faking being sick, by making retching noises. Barnum also confirmed that he told Callis to fake being sick in an effort to dissuade police from entering the bathroom.”
The exchange of fire occurred when police demanded that Callis exit the bathroom and Barnum opened fire, grazing an officer across the back and receiving a gunshot wound to his right arm. APD spokesperson Lt. Dave Parker said the struck officer received non-life-threatening injuries, as multiple officers returned fire and retreated from the room with Callis and Williams.
During the ensuing standoff, APD closed parts of 3rd and 5th Avenues to traffic, evacuating the area and deploying sniper teams.
Barnum later confirmed to police that he conducted burglaries to sustain his heroin habit, naming three recent strings of burglaries across town as an incomplete summary of burglaries he’d committed.
According to the charging document, Barnum’s arrest may offer victims in the burglaries some hope of recovering their property.
“Although the inventory of the stolen property found in Room 209 is far from complete as of today’s writing, officers processing the scene in Room 209 indicated that jewelry, jewelry boxes, personal mementos, and other property was found in a backpack within the room,” prosecutors wrote.
Barnum has an extensive Alaska criminal record, including cases of burglary, larceny, property damage and assault. He was arraigned Friday afternoon.
Editor's note: The charges against Jason Barnum have been updated after the release of charging documents in the case.