Midtown Anchorage hotel shooting victim was a US Army sergeant at JBER

The man shot dead Saturday morning in a Midtown hotel was a U.S. Army sergeant and logistics specialist at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson who joined the military in 2013.

A U.S. Army Alaska spokesman said Tuesday that Julian Francis Jr., 30, was serving with the 725th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Division of infantry.

Francis – originally from Saint Thomas, in the US Virgin Islands – joined the military in November 2013, according to a press release. His first posting was to Fort Wainwright in early 2014, U.S. Army Alaska spokesman John Pennell said.

Francis completed the Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning in 2017 and was posted to Fort Bragg for three years before reporting to JBER in August 2020.

A 22-year-old Anchorage man was jailed on Monday for murder in connection with Saturday’s fatal shooting.

Brent Avery Smith is accused of killing Francis next to the indoor pool at the Hyatt House hotel in Midtown, according to charging documents filed in the case. The motive for the shooting was unclear, according to a sworn affidavit filed with the charges.

The Anchorage Police Department is the lead investigative agency for the homicide, with support from the Army’s Criminal Investigations Division, Pennell said.

Francis’ battalion, nicknamed the Centurions, “deeply feels this loss and we offer our sincere condolences to our friends and family,” Lt. Col. Raphael A. Jimenez II, the battalion’s commander, said in a statement.

“Sergeant. Francis was an integral part of our Centurion family; an empathetic leader who inspired skydivers around him,” Jimenez said. “He brought joy to the lives of his soldiers with his witty retorts and his ever-present smile.”

His awards and decorations include the Army Medal of Honor, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Junior Professional Development Ribbon. -officers, the Military Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon and the Parachutist Badge, according to the statement.

Pennell said he is not aware of any other military personnel involved in Saturday’s incident.

Witnesses told police the group that included Francis spent about an hour in the pool before Smith, who went by the name Jakota, pulled out a handgun and shot Francis, then fled the area, according to the affidavit.

Smith remains jailed at the Anchorage Correctional Complex on $750,000 cash bond.

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