Man arrested in Spenard spraying has prior history with APD
Anchorage police have arrested the suspect believed to have bear-sprayed a Spenard gathering last weekend, more than a decade after he was shot and wounded by APD in a separate incident.
Bret Maness, 53, was taken into custody "without incident" following Saturday's encounter near the Church of Love at 3502 Spenard Rd., police spokesman MJ Thim said Thursday, hours after APD told the public Maness was at large and possibly armed and dangerous.
"APD received info that suspect Bret Maness was at a residence on the 12300 block of the Old Glenn Highway in Eagle River," police said on Twitter. "Officers responded and took him into custody at 11:27 a.m. without incident."
Thim said Maness was initially questioned by Anchorage-based FBI agents to evaluate the possibility of federal charges in the incident.
"The FBI was interested in the case, and so when we took him into custody we transported him to the FBI office," Thim said. "They have declined to take the case, and so this will remain at the state level and he has been transported to the Anchorage Jail to face the charges we have him on."
Members of the Alaska Grassroots Alliance said on Facebook Saturday afternoon that they had been conducting non-violent demonstration training when a man walked into the room, dispensing an orange cloud which left members of the group temporarily blinded and coughing.
“The preliminary investigation found that an adult male walked into the Church of Love and sprayed a group of people with bear spray,” Thim wrote. “He then walked out and fled the scene in a yellow 2003 Ford Crown Victoria. Multiple people were injured and the building had to be evacuated due to the attack.”
On Thursday, Thim said police had initially believed pepper spray was used in the attack but revised that "based on all the evidence at this point."
Court records Thursday showed Maness charged with burglary, terroristic threatening, reckless endangerment and 11 counts of fourth-degree assault.
Police have received "hundreds" of tips concerning the investigation, Thim said. Officers were still investigating any motive Maness had in the incident, as well as whether he had had any prior contact with the group or its members.
The Southern Poverty Law Center described Maness Thursday as "a longtime white supremacist with neo-Nazi ties," quoting a roommate who said Maness would sit in his living room and point a BB gun at black neighbors.
In November of 1997, Maness was arrested on murder charges in the Spenard shooting of neighbor Delbert White, after residents said racial slurs led up to a confrontation between the men. Police found 20 weapons, as well as a marijuana grow, in Maness' home, but he was acquitted of murder at trial and convicted only of controlled-substances charges.
According to the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, Alaska State Troopers had visited Maness’ home on June 28, 2001, to serve an order committing him to the Alaska Psychiatric Institute. Maness, who had a bolt-action rifle, threatened to kill troopers then led them on a chase to Eklutna, where he was shot in the shoulder by an APD officer before being arrested. He ultimately received a 10-year sentence on federal weapons charges in the incident.
“That’s why we wanted the public to know he could possibly be armed and dangerous, based on our dealings with him in the past,” Thim said.
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