Man accused of attempted murder hid behind child before Anchorage police shot him, charges say

Aug. 30—APD, Anchorage Police Department, gun, police, shooting

A 36-year-old man is facing charges including attempted murder and kidnapping after a standoff Friday in which he was shot and wounded by an Anchorage police officer after he placed a toddler in front of him as a shield, charging documents state.

Police on Monday identified the man as Michael Valu and the officer as Curtis Wockenfuss, who has been with the department since December 2017.

The incident began when police were called to a home in Northeast Anchorage just before 5 a.m. Friday on reports that Valu had fired a gun at a woman during an argument, according to charging documents filed by Assistant District Attorney Whitney Marie Bostick.

The woman was holding a child when Valu “pointed the gun directly at her head and then fired,” the charges said.

Three other people were in the living room with the woman and child when Valu fired, Bostick wrote. The bullet pierced a wall and entered another room where two people were sleeping, the charges said.

No one was injured.

Valu fled in a Nissan Pathfinder with an elementary school child, police said. Police Chief Michael Kerle said Friday that Valu is related to the child.

An officer found the abandoned Nissan near Lake Otis Parkway and Tudor Road around 6:30 a.m. Friday, police said. Officers then saw Valu walking in Otis Lake next to the child.

When Valu saw police, he placed the child between him and the officers, using the child “as a shield” by crouching behind them, the charges said.

He ignored police commands and then pointed a handgun at the officers, Kerle said.

“The responding officers feared they would be shot by Valus,” Bostick wrote.

Wockenfuss fired twice, hitting Valu in the midsection, police said. He was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive.

Police said the child “appeared to be unharmed.”

During part of the incident, a witness in a car became trapped between APD officers and Valu, according to the charging document.

On Monday, police spokeswoman Renee Oistade did not respond to questions about whether officers fired while the child was still in front of Valos or whether he was in danger of being hit by police fire.

Oistad also did not respond to a question about what department policy dictates officers do in such situations.

The Office of Special Prosecutors will review the shooting to determine whether the officer’s use of force was justified, police said. Once the state audit is complete, APD Internal Affairs will review the officer’s actions for any policy violation.

Valu now faces charges of attempted murder, two counts of kidnapping, 15 counts of felony third-degree assault and weapons misconduct because a previous felony conviction barred him from legally possessing a gun. He was previously convicted of felony DUI and has misdemeanor convictions for assault and felonies.

Valu was being held Monday at the Anchorage Correctional Complex. He declined to appear in court on Monday. He is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday.

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