‘Don't try to run:’ Carpentry class nails truck thieves in video
An Anchorage vocational-school teacher who helped his students stop two people from stealing a classmate’s pickup truck this week says he’s proud of them for stepping in to help.
Charging documents filed this week outline the case against 31-year-old Steven Chansavang and 28-year-old Carissa Gaudet-Wilkie, who stand accused of both vehicle theft and attempted vehicle theft in the Tuesday encounter.
Prosecutors say the pair drove another truck, which had been stolen from an airport parking lot, to the Southern Alaska Carpenters Training Center at 8751 King St. When they arrived at about 9:30 a.m., Chansavang allegedly tried to steal a white pickup parked outside the building – but they got much more trouble than they bargained for.
Justin Jackson, a teacher at the center, said the actual event differed slightly from prosecutors' version. On Tuesday morning, his class of 20 first-year carpentry apprentices was about to leave their upstairs classroom – overlooking the parking lot – to start a project when a student said, “Hey, there's someone in my truck right now.”
“I ran downstairs and out the front of our building and there was a guy in her truck,” Jackson said Saturday. “I yelled, ‘Hey!’ and as soon as I yelled, he jumped out of the truck and got into the red Chevy his accomplice was driving at the time. By the time I got to the red truck he had made it inside and had locked the door, so I stood in front of the truck – and at that point, they tried to run me over.”
In that moment, Jackson’s class came to the rescue.
A pair of videos recorded by the school’s Joshua Catiller show the suspects’ attempt to drive away being foiled, as nearly a dozen people run up to the stolen red pickup. One person leans in through the driver’s-side window as others head off its path, and another jumps into the pickup’s bed poised to ride with it.
The red truck stopped when it struck another apprentice’s vehicle, Jackson said – an opening one of the students used to reach in and remove the truck’s keys from the ignition.
“From there, we had them pretty much cornered where they couldn’t get out and leave,” Jackson said. “The female who was driving the truck, after about five minutes of sitting inside the truck, walked out and said she was going to call her insurance company like this was no big deal.”
Several apprentices followed Gaudet-Wilkie when she got out of the red truck, and that’s when Jackson said Chansavang made a break for it.
The second video shows Jackson and another man tackling Chansavang when he tries to run from the scene, pinning him down and rolling him onto his stomach along King Street’s sidewalk.
As students call police for help, a woman tells Chansavang, “Don’t try to run; you’re going to get hurt.” Another man asks him, “How’s that concrete feel?”
While Chansavang was on the ground, Jackson had a chance to speak with him.
“I said, ‘Why’d you think this was OK?’” Jackson said. “And he just said, ‘I have a drug problem’ – and that was the only thing that he ever said.”
“I actually tackled him, and once I had gotten him to the ground two of my other apprentices actually held him down on the ground,” Jackson said. “Somebody actually brought up some rope; we tied his hands behind his back and took him up and threw him back in the stolen truck, and waited there for the police to arrive.”
After APD officers arrested Chansavang and Gaudet-Wilkie, seizing a small amount of meth from Chansavang and taking statements from the class, the apprentices immediately continued on to the project they were slated to start.
On Saturday, Jackson called the students stopping the truck “the best team effort I’ve ever seen in my entire life.” Since then, the apprentices have bonded over the experience, becoming a cohesive unit in a matter of days.
“They come from all different walks of life, background, everything and just the solidarity they have together now is it’s just amazing,” Jackson said. “It was unbelievable to see how much of a team it has made that class.”
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