Anchorage police officers responded to Fred Meyer on the corner of Muldoon and Debarr roads Monday after reports of store security fighting with shoplifters.

The caller told police a weapon had been mentioned by a woman involved in the fight, according to a community alert from the Anchorage Police Department.

At 6:37 p.m. Sept. 16, police say initial indications are that 24-year-old Richard J. Leviege walked out of Fred Meyer with merchandise he didn't purchase.

Police say when store employees confronted Leviege outside he walked around them and went to his vehicle. He then got a pair of shoes from his Toyota and went back into the store and tried to return them at the customer service desk.

When he wasn't given a refund because he had no receipt, police say Leviege walked over to the store's shoe section. He then allegedly grabbed another pair of shoes, met up with his girlfriend in the grocery store section and left the store with both pairs of shoes.

It was at this point when police say two employees, one from Fred Meyer Asset Protection and the other with a security firm hired by the store, confronted Leviege and his girlfriend on the sidewalk outside. When security attempted to escort Leviege back into the store, police say he pushed one of the employees and head-butted the other. 

Police say a fight started and Leviege yelled at his girlfriend to take out her gun. As 33-year-old Justine S. Smith attempted to reach inside her purse, a third employee grabbed the purse straps to keep Smith from taking anything out. Police say Smith told the employee she was allowed to have a gun.

During the struggle, Leviege and the two security employees fell to the ground. Police say Leviege tried several times to grab the gun of one of the employees.

An employee pepper-sprayed Leviege, but all three of them were overcome by the pepper spray. Police say the fight stopped and APD officers arrived on the scene after Leviege and Smith had already walked back to their vehicle.

Leviege and Smith were both arrested. While getting handcuffed, police say Leviege physically resisted the officers. APD had to take Leviege to the ground.

Officers impounded Leviege and Smith's vehicle for evidence because Smith's purse, which allegedly concealed the gun she was reaching for, is inside the Toyota. The purse and vehicle will be searched after police obtain a search warrant.

Police say no one involved in the incident actually saw a firearm.

Leviege is in custody at the Anchorage Correctional Complex on an outstanding felony warrant and has been charged with robbery, assault and resisting arrest. He was arraigned Tuesday in the jail courthouse at 2:30 p.m. 

Smith was arrested and is also in custody at the Anchorage jail on charges of robbery and assault, court records indicate. Smith is set to appear at 2 p.m., Sept. 19, at the Nesbett Courthouse in Anchorage. 

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