Confession leads to cold-case arrest in fatal 2009 shooting at Anchorage hotel

Crime scene tape.
Crime scene tape at an Anchorage police response (Valerie Lake/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage police have arrested a man in a deadly cold-case shooting that happened nearly 15 years ago, after officers say he confessed last week. 

Court records show John Patrick Dahlquist, 56, charged with three counts of second-degree murder in the Dec. 14, 2009 shootings of Sang Chun and Monte Howell at the now-demolished Inlet Inn downtown. Chun died in the shooting, and Howell was severely wounded.

The shooting was among hundreds of crimes reported at or near the inn, at the corner of 6th Avenue and H Street, leading to its closure in 2013.  

In a charging document against Dahlquist, police said Howell had told them at the time that he had been working at the inn’s front desk at about 2 a.m. He said a man who first entered the hotel to use the bathroom returned and demanded money from the cash register at gunpoint, taking about $500. The suspect then ordered Howell to lie down, and shot each of them once and left.

The bullets  were consistent with being fired from a Hi-Point 9mm pistol, a detail investigators never released to the public. Police also got a description of the suspect from Howell – a Hispanic man standing about 5 feet, 8 inches tall with black hair and facial stubble.

“(A detective) had a deposit sketch done of the suspect, which provided more tips,” police wrote in the charging document. “(H)owever eventually the tips stopped coming in, all leads were exhausted, and the case went cold.”

On April 9, police were called to Tudor Bingo, where Dahlquist had told employees he wanted to speak to police, the charges say. In a series of subsequent interviews, police say, Dahlquist told them he remembered emerging from the bathroom, robbing the register wearing a bandana and shooting at the men with a Hi-Point 9mm pistol.

The charges say Dahlquist told police he left the scene by taxi, just after seeing officers arrive.

“John said he saw the police (K-9) track and that they had been using German shepherds, but the snow was too thick and high,” police wrote in the charges.

During the interviews, police say, Dahlquist said that he had taken drugs and was suffering from paranoia, at one point asking an officer not to shoot him. He told police that said people he knew had asked that he confess to the shooting, charges say.

“He also told detectives that he was scared, but that he could not explain why,” police said. “He asked what he could say to make a wrong right.”

Investigators say they didn’t consider Dahlquist a suspect when the shooting took place. But police were able to find a DMV photo of him from the time, which an officer said “appeared very similar to the suspect sketch done at the time.”

Police ultimately arrested Dahlquist on murder charges. He was being held Friday at the Anchorage Correctional Complex.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated where the victims were shot and where the bullets were recovered. Dahlquist’s charges in the case have also been updated.

Chris Klint is a web producer and breaking news reporter at Alaska Public Media. Reach him at Read more about Chris here.

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