Army Spc. Kip Lynch shot his wife in the back as she held their infant daughter in her arms, with the .45-caliber rounds passing through her and into the baby. With his wife on the floor, Lynch then shot her several more times before turning the gun on himself in another part of the house.
That's the account the wife's family says Anchorage police gave them in explaining how Raquell Lynch, 19, and the couple's 8-month-old daughter, Kyirsta Lynch, died in their South Anchorage apartment. The family also says the murder weapon may have been a commemorative handgun the soldier acquired marking his recent service in Afghanistan.
Kip Lynch, a 21-year-old military policeman, failed in his suicide attempt and remains hospitalized in critical condition, according to police. He has not been charged with a crime, said police, who previously identified Lynch as the shooter.
Homicide detectives on Friday, citing the pending investigation, would neither confirm nor deny the account the family said they were given of the shooting, though police spokeswoman Anita Shell acknowledged that police had talked to the family about what happened.
"It couldn't get much uglier than it is," Shell said.
Raquell's brother, 20-year-old Derrick Lopez, says police told the family that a friend of Kip Lynch's had been at the apartment at 9900 William Jones Circle the night of Friday, April 23, and heard them arguing.
Raquell, who met Lynch in high school in Jacksonville, Fla., had recently completed a degree in medical billing and coding and moved to Alaska when he returned to Fort Richardson from a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan in February. She said she missed her family and was going to leave if Lynch didn't straighten up, Lopez said investigators told him.
Kip Lynch and the friend went out to drink at a bar, and, about 2:10 a.m. Saturday, Lynch sent the friend a text message: "I'm going home. Everything's fine," according to the police account Lopez said he was given.
Though he was never physically abusive, Lynch had been known to get argumentative when he was drinking, Lopez said. Police told the family they think the argument they'd been having earlier in the night continued when he got home, and Lynch pulled a .45-caliber handgun, he said.
"His intentions, from what we were told, was not to kill the baby or hurt her in any way," said Lopez, a corrections officer in Florida. "I guess it was just her. But the .45 bullets projected through her, into the baby."
Raquell, with the baby in her arms, was hit twice in the torso and fell to the ground on top of the child, he said. Police told the family that Lynch then stood over her and shot her several more times in the neck and head before he shot himself in another part of the home, Lopez said.
The bodies were discovered when military police officers went to check about 7:30 a.m. Monday after Lynch hadn't shown up for work, police said. A pet Chihuahua, Kelsey, was in the apartment unharmed, said Lopez, who was picking up the animal at the airport Friday.
The family was told the weapon used in the shooting may have been a new handgun engraved with Lynch's name that he received through the Army last week, said Raquell's other brother, Angel Lopez, 27.
The Army on Friday confirmed Lynch's unit, the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, commissioned .45-caliber handguns to commemorate the deployment. The weapons were stamped with the unit logo and every soldier in the brigade had the option to buy one, said Maj. Bill Coppernoll, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Alaska.
"The commemorative weapons were delivered to licensed firearms dealers in the local area and soldiers had to follow all the state and federal requirements before taking possession of the firearms," Coppernoll said.
The Army says all the brigade's soldiers went through a mental-health assessment upon returning from the war, though officials have declined to say how Lynch fared on the evaluation.
Angel Lopez visited with Kip and Raquell recently in Arizona and everything seemed fine, he said. The family says they believe Lynch snapped because of a mixture of alcohol and post-traumatic stress from his yearlong tour in Afghanistan. They hold no ill-will toward him.
"He was our brother. I mean, he made my sister so happy," Angel Lopez said. "We love his family, and we would never want to wish death on anyone -- especially him -- in revenge, because we're not going to get anything out of that. We're hoping that he recovers and that we can get some kind of answer."
The family says they're not happy with the military's handling of the situation. They say they had to call police to find out what happened, rather than the Army contacting them, and that the Army also won't pay for the funeral planned for Sunday afternoon.
"They need to re-evaluate their policy and procedures as far as everybody here is concerned," Derrick Lopez said.
Shari Lawrence, spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Human Resources Command in Virginia, said the Army will reimburse the family for the cost of transporting the bodies home but, in compliance with its policy, won't cover the funeral or other expenses.
"It's a terrible, terrible situation," Lawrence said. "We have assigned a casualty assistance officer to the wife's family, which is not something we normally would do. We want to make sure that we are taking care of the family the best we can."
An account to help the family with expenses has been set up in the name of Raquell's mother, Christina Kulik, at BB&T banks.
Find James Halpin online at adn.com/contact/jhalpin or call him at 257-4589.