A gunman and his two accomplices in an East Anchorage double homicide remained on the run Thursday, although police caught what they characterized as a "very significant" break in the case in witness descriptions of a black Cadillac the assailants used to flee the scene.
Initial reports indicated the shooter stood at the driver's side of a black 2006 Honda pickup stopped in the street in the 1600 block of Russian Jack Drive and let loose a barrage of fire with a rifle, then ran to a waiting sedan perhaps just 10 feet away and jumped in as it was already backing out to speed away from the crime scene.
Police now say the shooter, who sprayed at least 15 rounds at the two victims, and the driver of the get-away car were both black men accompanied by a woman riding in the vehicle. Investigators offered no other details on the men and no description of the woman.
But witnesses did have a specific description of the getaway vehicle, now identified as a black Cadillac four-door sedan, police Lt. Dave Parker said.
Detectives were working Thursday to find out, among other things, if anyone in the area owns one, Parker said. For help investigators could look at tickets police have issued to black Cadillacs, or they could simply query vehicle registration information for every such vehicle in Southcentral, he said.
While witnesses apparently didn't catch the license plate number, black Cadillac sedans are not a particularly common vehicle here, he said.
"I think we'll be able to figure it out without any trouble," Parker said. "The homicide guys have just been pounding the boards on this."
According to an online police database of stolen vehicles, police have a record of only one Cadillac -- a 1997 Seville stolen last summer -- that matches the description of the get-away car seen speeding away just after the shots rang out at about 4 a.m. Wednesday.
Inside the pickup still idling on the street in front of a trash bin, the two 19-year-old victims were dead, shot repeatedly. Police identified the driver as Christon Shannon Lee of Anchorage and his passenger as Matthew Nick Peterson of Wasilla.
By Thursday, police still wouldn't say what they thought the shooting was about. The victims did not appear to have a connection to the neighborhood and police were trying to figure out why they were there, Parker said.
According to public records, both men were no strangers to the law, each having been charged in multiple criminal cases in the past.
Just Monday Lee was charged with being a minor on the premises of an alcohol establishment. Although a number of the charges against him have been dropped, Lee has been convicted of offenses that include a weapons charge, tampering with evidence and a felony count of vehicle theft, according to court records.
In a 2007 case Peterson was charged with felony counts of robbery, burglary and assault, although he later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal mischief. Peterson also had been convicted on two driving under the influence charges, according to court records.
Reached on Thursday, a few relatives and friends of the men said they had no comment. Others could not be reached.
Throughout the day, friends posted comments about Peterson's death on his MySpace page on the Internet, which featured a montage depicting scantily-clad women, bundles of cash and drug packages.
"i cnt believe u are gone matt didnt get ta chill wit u," said one poster. "i am gunna miss your smile and think ov the days we got in ta troble ta gether!!luv ya bro rest in peace!!"
Find James Halpin online at adn.com/contact/jhalpin or call him at 257-4589.