On July 20, a shootout at Anchorage’s Centennial Park campground left both a suspect and one Anchorage Police Department officer seriously wounded, and saw residents of the camp fleeing for their lives. The shooting became the latest in a series of polarizing incidents at the campground, which has been plagued by acts of violence, bear intrusions, a lack of city services, and flooding since the Bronson administration abruptly repurposed it as a sanctioned camping location for homeless individuals in June.
The shooting elicited shock and outrage from homelessness advocates, political leaders, and members of the media. But one Assembly Member saw a silver lining.
Speaking on the Mike Porcaro Show on July 21, the day after the shooting, Assembly Member Jamie Allard noted that the shooting “could’ve happened anywhere in our city.” Allard stated that she was thankful that the shooting had occurred in Centennial Park because the suspect, whose vehicle was in a campground parking spot, had not been able to flee. “Where it happened was probably the best place it could have happened,” Allard told Porcaro.
The audio is embedded below:
Centennial Park campground is located in northeast Anchorage’s Muldoon neighborhood, immediately adjacent to a residential area and a short walk from Muldoon Elementary School. Muldoon is known for its diverse population, parks, and thriving commercial strip on Muldoon Rd. The neighborhood, which is immediately south of JBER, is home to many military members and their families.
Map of northeast Anchorage, showing Centennial Campground
On July 21, the same day as Allard’s comments, the Salvation Army began moving children staying at Centennial Park out of the campground.
In response to the shooting, the organizers of the Pena Park Market, a fixture in Anchorage’s Hmong immigrant community, stated on Facebook that they would consider moving the market due to its proximity to Centennial Park. Following a vote by vendors, the market remained in its existing location.
Muldoon is represented on the Anchorage Assembly by Forrest Dunbar and Pete Petersen. When asked by the Landmine about Allard’s claim that Centennial Park campground was the “best place” for a shooting, Dunbar replied that he had no comment. Petersen responded, “There is no best place for a shooting to occur anywhere.”