Police on lookout for Fairbanks library shooter

Fairbanks Police Department commander’s Dodge Charger. (Flickr Creative Commons photo by Steven H. Robinson)

A man was shot in a Fairbanks North Star Borough library. A press release from Fairbanks Police says fire fighters initially responded to the Noel Wien Library on Airport Way at about 1:15 PM Wednesday (March 23), after receiving a call about a patron being injured by an exploding cell phone battery. They say investigation revealed that a wound to the 18 -year-old man’s forearm was from a gunshot received while he was seated at a library table, working on a laptop computer.

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Responding police officers determined that the bullet, which passed through the patron’s arm, and was recovered at the scene, had ricocheted off a library wall and access panel before hitting him. Officer Doug Wellborn said it remains unclear where the bullet came from.

”No one saw a firearm,” Wellborn said. “They simply heard a shot, so we’re looking at all possibilities. We want to include maybe it was inside of a backpack or a jacket or something was moved or accidentally fired in that manner.”

Officer Wellborn said police are pulling video from library cameras to try to determine what happened. He said the man injured reported that another man, who had been sitting at the opposite end of the table, checked on him after the shooting. Police consider the other man, described as African American in his 20’s, stocky, with possible dread locks and a beard, a person of interest and are trying to identify him.

They say no one witnessed any type of dispute prior to hearing the gunshot. Officer Wellborn notes that that unless it’s posted as unlawful, there’s no prohibition against carrying a gun into a library or other public building.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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