ANCHORAGE, Alaska—Police in Alaska’s capital city have tentatively ruled out gunshots, drugs or suicide in the death of the newly elected mayor but have not determined whether he died from a natural event or foul play.
The adult son of Stephen “Greg” Fisk, 70, found the mayor’s body Monday afternoon and alerted police.
Fisk was found with injuries that police did not describe. Police are awaiting autopsy results to announce a possible cause of death.
“It’s not clear what the cause of those injuries are,” said police spokeswoman Erann Kalwara.
Fisk lived alone. There was no sign of forced entry into Fisk’s home above Juneau’s downtown. Police are hoping the state medical examiner in Anchorage will complete the autopsy in a couple of days, she said.
Fisk had scheduled appointments Monday and when he missed them, his adult son, Ian, went to his father’s home and spotted the body.
In their official statement, police acknowledged rumors of an assault but said those rumors were “speculation.”
An attack was “one of the possibilities out there, but there’s others that could have happened,” Police Chief Bryce Johnson told the Juneau Empire newspaper. “There could’ve been a fall. There’s lots of things that would cause it.”
The department has fielded media inquiries from around the country, Kalwara said. Sometimes, it’s obvious at the scene that a person died of natural causes.
“In this case, we just can’t confirm that yet or rule anything out,” she said Tuesday afternoon.
Citing Johnson, however, Kalwara said there was no apparent gunshot wound and “nothing at the scene to indicate there were drugs involved.”
Likewise, “There’s nothing on scene to indicate it was a suicide,” she said.
Fisk’s son, Ian, in an email statement said his family is grieving privately.
“We sincerely appreciate the support of the community and we recognize that, as would be the case with any public figure, his death brings a lot of attention,” Fisk said. “At this time we have no reason to speculate as to the cause of his death and are awaiting the results of his autopsy. Meanwhile I will not be responding to any further media requests of any kind, and ask for your understanding.”
Greg Fisk, a fisheries consultant, handily defeated incumbent Merrill Sanford in the Oct. 6 election to become mayor.
Bob King, a veteran of Alaska politics who worked as press secretary to former Gov. Tony Knowles and as a fisheries aide to former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, was Fisk’s next-door neighbor, friend and campaign manager.
“He wanted to focus on strengthening Juneau’s role as Alaska’s capital city,” King told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Fisk wanted to encourage development of Juneau’s waterfront and pledged to push the federal government to restore jobs that had been moved to Seattle from Juneau, King said.
Fisk also intended to work for more affordable housing in the city whose downtown is bounded on one side by the ocean and on the other by mountainsides.
“He had a lot of different thoughts and he really jumped into it,” King said.
Fisk had served on boards and commissions but had never run for office. When he asked King to be his campaign chairman, King didn’t give Fisk much of a chance but helped out in minor ways, he said. Fisk ran an active campaign, going door-to-door to speak to voters and hear their concerns. Fisk ended up taking nearly two-thirds of the vote.
“He earned every one of those votes that he got,” King said.
Fisk was sworn in Oct. 20, said city clerk Laurie Sica. Deputy Mayor Mary Becker was named acting mayor.
“I think this was a terrible day for all of Juneau,” Downtown Business Association president Jill Ramiel told the Juneau Empire. “He was never afraid to say what he thought.”
A small crowd Monday night placed candles in the center of a public sculpture near Fisk’s home, the newspaper reported.
“That makes me feel better,” D.J. Thomson said after lighting the candles in Fisk’s memory.