Juneau Police Department Sgt. Chris Gifford collects a handgun found at the scene where a woman reportedly shot herself in front of the main entrance of the Dimond Courthouse on Monday.

Juneau Police Department Sgt. Chris Gifford collects a handgun found at the scene where a woman reportedly shot herself in front of the main entrance of the Dimond Courthouse on Monday.

Woman’s death outside courthouse jars downtown Juneau

  • By LISA PHU and JAMES BROOKS
  • Monday, March 7, 2016 12:47pm
  • NewsLocal News

A 34-year-old Juneau resident shot herself in front of the Dimond Courthouse on Monday morning, according to the Juneau Police Department.

Police said Miranda Ellen Davison shot herself in the chest with a handgun around 11:05 a.m. She was taken by ambulance to Bartlett Regional Hospital and declared deceased at 11:37 a.m.

Lt. David Campbell said Davison’s next of kin in Juneau has been notified.

“When she was taken to the hospital, she didn’t have any identification on her, but we found something on her that kind of gave us a lead into who she might be,” Campbell said.

“The supervisor of the day, Sgt. (Chris) Gifford, went to the house, and this would’ve been the third house we went to as far as thinking it might be this person. He ended up getting the family members, transporting them to the hospital and then the family members made the positive ID at the hospital,” Campbell said.

Randy Greer was one of the first people on scene after the gunshot. Greer, an IT tech for the Department of Health and Social Services, was walking to his office in the Alaska Office Building on Main Street when he first saw Davison get out a vehicle downhill of the courthouse.

“I happened to notice her because her pants were sagging very low, and I made a mental comment about it,” Greer said. “She got out of the vehicle and quickly walked up towards the court plaza.”

Greer didn’t see anyone else get out of the vehicle, which he described as distinct and easily identifiable. He said he saw it drive away, but he didn’t see the license plate number.

“She walked up to the courthouse, but she did not enter the building. She just walked in front and pulled the trigger,” Greer said. “It all happened easily within a minute.”

Greer said he’s been involved in emergency situations before and knew what to do. He ran to the woman, kicked the gun away and assessed the situation. Two other people were also nearby and called 911. Greer said he kept an eye on the gun until police arrived.

Greer found the entrance and exit wounds in Davison’s chest, saw that she wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse, and started CPR before others took over.

“I was pretty sure that she was dead,” Greer said.

The shooting caused a stir in downtown Juneau. Fourth Street was closed in front of the Alaska State Capitol, and the area in front of the courthouse was blocked off for about an hour. The Capitol was briefly locked down.

Juneau police are continuing to investigate Davison’s death.

“We want to find out why this happened,” Campbell said. “The Medical Examiner’s Office (in Anchorage) is going to be able to tell us if there were any substances or alcohol on board.”

Campbell said the case will likely remain open until police get a medical examiner’s report in four to eight weeks.

Hilary Young, program coordinator for the Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition, said anyone who’s suicidal or struggling with depression should reach out for help.

“A lot of time suicide is silenced,” Young said. “It’s an uncomfortable subject, and people don’t want to talk about it and they don’t want to admit they’re having a hard time and we’re trying to break that. We want people to reach out and get help and talk about it.”

Young said it’s just as important for those surrounding someone struggling to do something.

“If you’re struggling, depressed or suicidal, it’s hard enough to admit it or reach out, but if you’re someone who’s noticing it, then you can be the person to reach out,” she said.

No matter what time of day, Young said, there’s help available at the Alaska CARELINE at 1-877-266-HELP.

• Contact reporter Lisa Phu at 523-2246 or lisa.phu@juneauempire.com.

Editors note: Are you in crisis and need help? If you are looking for help for yourself or others, please talk to someone. Call the Alaska CARELINE at 1-877-266-HELP, or visit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the Alaska Community Mental Health Centers, or juneausuicideprevention.org.

Juneau police officers collect evidence after a woman reportedly shot herself in front of the main entrance of the Dimond Courthouse on Monday.

Juneau police officers collect evidence after a woman reportedly shot herself in front of the main entrance of the Dimond Courthouse on Monday.

Juneau first-responders lift a woman onto an ambulance who reportedly shot herself in front of the main entrance of the Dimond Courthouse on Monday.

Juneau first-responders lift a woman onto an ambulance who reportedly shot herself in front of the main entrance of the Dimond Courthouse on Monday.

Juneau first responders lift a woman into a stretcher after she reportedly shot herself in front of the main entrance of the Dimond Courthouse on Monday.

Juneau first responders lift a woman into a stretcher after she reportedly shot herself in front of the main entrance of the Dimond Courthouse on Monday.

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