Police said Tuesday that the newly elected mayor of Alaska’s capital city had suffered injuries when his body was discovered, but have tentatively ruled out gunshots, drug use or suicide as a cause of death.
Greg Fisk, 70, was found by his adult son Ian in the older man’s Juneau home Monday afternoon.
Police did not describe Fisk’s injuries, saying they were waiting on an autopsy report from the state medical examiner in Anchorage. Police spokeswoman Erann Kalwara said investigators were hopeful the report would be completed in a couple of days.
Fisk, who was elected to a three-year term as Juneau mayor in October, lived alone in a house above the city’s downtown. His son went to his father’s home to check on him Monday after the mayor had missed previously scheduled appointments.
In their official statement Monday, 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.”
Kalwara told the Associated Press that in some cases, 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.
The Empire reported that Fisk’s next-door neighbors said they hadn’t seen the mayor all day Monday and hadn’t heard any disturbance to indicate an assault. Chief Johnson also told the paper that investigators had found no evidence of a break-in.
Ian Fisk said in an email statement that 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,” Ian Fisk wrote. “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.”