2 held, 1 at large in Anchorage chase of stolen SUV
Anchorage police say two people were taken into custody from a stolen SUV late Thursday, but a third remains at large following a crosstown chase in which a police vehicle was struck and the SUV’s occupants fired on officers.
Only one of the two people held from the chase -- alleged driver Alexander Lemana, 23 – was identified in a police statement on the case Friday morning. A woman was also detained, and a second unidentified man escaped a police perimeter.
Nora Morse, a police spokeswoman, said the incident began just before 10:30 p.m., when police spotted an “occupied stolen vehicle” near McCarrey Street and Mountain View Drive. The SUV didn’t stop when police tried to pull it over.
“Officers attempted to block the vehicle at Northern Lights (Boulevard) and Boniface (Parkway) but it jumped a median, crashed into a police car, and continued on Boniface,” Morse wrote in a statement on the chase.
The officer in the struck vehicle was sent to a local hospital for evaluation, Morse said, but was unhurt in the collision.
Police converged on the area from across town, and again tried to stop the SUV on Mountain View Drive. Morse said “shots were fired at officers” at that point, but none struck officers and no shots were fired in return.
A witness to the chase, Mandy Premo, said she saw the SUV heading west past the Holiday gas station on 5th Avenue near Merrill Field.
“You could smell the gunpowder in the air on 5th [Avenue],” Premo said on Facebook. “We decided to turn around and see what was going on and we couldn't get too close but we [saw] them speed through downtown. Sparks were flying from underneath their truck, (and) when the truck finally came to a stop it was on fire underneath the front engine part.”
The SUV headed west into the downtown area, and was finally stopped at 9th Avenue and L Street just before 10:50 p.m. “Extensive police resources” had been called in during the chase, Morse said, and a perimeter was formed in the area to secure the SUV’s occupants after they ran from the vehicle.
“This could have been a lot worse,” Morse said. “We’re pretty lucky nobody was injured.”
Photos taken by Premo show officers searching a heavily damaged white SUV near the city Department of Health and Human Services building at 9th and L.
Lemana was held on two counts of assault, weapons misconduct, vehicle theft, criminal mischief, and failing to stop at the direction of a peace officer. Court records showed his bail initially set Friday at a total of $40,000 cash, with a court-approved third-party custodian required for his release. No further charges were announced in the case Friday morning, Morse said.
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call police at 907-786-8900, or contact Anchorage Crime Stoppers at 561-STOP or through its website.