Suspect in Anchorage teen’s murder arrested in Israel
A man at large in the Anchorage murder of an East High School student has been arrested in Israel, more than a year after the crime.
The Jerusalem Post reported that Haitim Taha, 21, was taken into custody Sunday by Israeli police. Taha had originally entered the country on July 8, 2017 using a U.S. passport.
APD spokesman MJ Thim said Monday that Taha had been arrested at his mother's house in northern Israel.
Taha, along with 17-year-old Anthony Salazar who was arrested last year, were charged that September with first-degree and second-degree murder as well as assault counts in the drive-by shooting that took 17-year-old Leroy Lawrence’s life.
According to APD Lt. John McKinnon, the shooting was the result of a “disrespectful interaction” between the suspects and another group at a local hospital, where Salazar was treated after injuring his hand during an April 7, 2017 attempted burglary in Oceanview.
Later that day at about 3:30 p.m., Salazar and Taha were driving along Irwin Street in Mountain View when they saw the other group walking nearby and opened fire. One man in the group was struck in the leg, but Lawrence – an innocent bystander – was fatally shot in the head.
U.S. authorities are requesting that Israel extradite Taha to face his Alaska charges, according to the Post.
On Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General John Skidmore, chief of the Alaska Department of Law’s Criminal Division, said nobody with the state has spoken directly with Israeli authorities regarding Taha’s extradition, which is now being negotiated by the U.S. government.
“We had charges we wanted to file and we did so,” Skidmore said. “We realized Taha was no longer in the state; we were able to develop information about where Taha was located.”
Rochelle Liedike, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Marshals Service office in Anchorage, declined to discuss details Wednesday on how investigators were able to find Taha. He remained in Israel pending talks on his transfer.
“We can't comment on specifics with the extradition, just due to security information, but it is in progress,” Liedike said.
Daniella Rivera contributed information to this story.
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