Soldier severely injured airman in downtown bar attack, charges say
A Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson airman was severely hurt by a soldier assigned to the same base, Anchorage police say, during what witnesses described as an unprovoked assault at a Downtown bar earlier this month.
Nicholas Wyatt Brett, 27, was arraigned Thursday afternoon on charges of first-degree and second-degree assault in the Aug. 6 attack on Seth Duggan at F Street Station. A judge set Brett’s bail at $5000 cash corporate-third party custodian and also appointed him a public defender.
U.S. Army Alaska spokesman John Pennell said Brett, an Army corporal, is an infantryman assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division at JBER. Duggan confirmed to KTVA he is an Airman 1st Class.
A criminal complaint against Brett, written by APD Detective Monique Doll, said officers responded to a reported assault at the bar near 4th Avenue at about 2:45 a.m. that Sunday morning. Witnesses told police a man wearing a plaid shirt had punched Duggan, who was bleeding from a laceration to the back of his head, in the face; officers found that the suspect had left before they arrived.
“Several witnesses added that the attack seemed unprovoked,” Doll wrote.
Staff at the bar provided police with a surveillance video of the assault, in which “a male in a plaid shirt” shoved Duggan from behind.
“As Duggan caught himself on the bar and attempted to turn around, the suspect positioned Duggan with his left hand before striking the left side of Duggan’s (head) with his right elbow,” Doll wrote. “This caused the right side of Duggan’s head to strike an upright metal bar railing attached to the bar. Immediately after his head hit the railing Duggan slumped, and the male is seen pushing Duggan to the floor with his left arm.”
Duggan spoke with Doll about the assault last week, telling her he had suffered skull fractures and a traumatic brain injury which left him using a cane.
“Duggan appeared unsure on his feet, and told me he needed to rely on the cane for balance subsequent to the assault,” Doll wrote. “His pupils were extremely dilated, and his speech was slow and deliberate – as if he needed to think about his words before speaking them out loud.”
Brett was identified as the suspect by a friend of his, who was shown the surveillance video by a U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations member. Police subsequently visited JBER and spoke with Brett.
A GoFundMe account set up to help cover Duggan’s accommodation costs said he had also suffered two brain bleeds, “lost his hearing in his right ear and has slipped discs in his back.”
“Walking is difficult and we are praying for the best outcome for his recovery,” organizers wrote.
Duggan's father Mike Duggan, was in town for the last week. He said Thursday, his son is getting TBI (traumatic brain injury) care. He said Duggan has support from friends in Alaska as well as on the east coast.
“Now we’ll just let the court system take its path and we’ll see where it goes from here,” he told KTVA.
The next hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 5 at Nesbett Courthouse at 2 p.m.
Steffi Lee contributed information to this story.