A suspected armed robber shot the owner of Capone's Pizza multiple times early Thursday morning, leaving 39-year-old Eric Ambris bleeding heavily from a leg wound on the floor of his Gambell Street business, Anchorage police said.
Ambris remained in critical but stable condition Thursday afternoon after morning surgery at an Anchorage hospital, police and family members said.
Police are looking for a suspect of unknown race described as slender, about 5-foot-11, in a dark hoodie and jeans. Investigators are checking on surveillance video from the restaurant as well as other businesses, police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said.
A bouncer at Barry's Baranof Lounge heard shots fired and called 911 just after 1 a.m., Castro said.
The bouncer visits with Ambris regularly, and walked over to the restaurant about 20 minutes before the shooting, she said. After calling 911, he checked on Ambris and discovered he'd been shot.
Ambris was alone in the restaurant, which is open until 3 a.m., when the shooting happened, Castro said.
A witness said she and others used towels to stop the blood pouring from a gunshot wound in Ambris' leg. He was also shot in the chest, police said.
Ambris tried to stay on his feet but collapsed, the witness said. He remained conscious until medics arrived several minutes later.
A number of witnesses saw the lone suspect flee in the direction of the Carrs grocery store at 13th Street and Gambell, Castro said.
Late Thursday morning, the restaurant's neon "Open" sign remained lit even though the shop with the "Original Capone's Pizza" sign was locked. Three pools of blood, broken glass, and bloody footprints covered the floor inside.
Detectives investigating the Capone's shooting aren't disclosing why they think it was part of an attempted robbery, Castro said.
Ambris took a plea deal on a felony charge of identity fraud back in 2011, according to a state courts database. Anchorage attorney Rex Butler represented him at the time. Butler said Ambris, who is also identified as Erick Ambriz, had a false ID. He's apparently from Mexico.
"In trying to get a license, his picture came up under two different names," Butler said.
The lawyer called the restaurant owner's shooting a tragedy.
"He really fought hard to stay in this country and this state and to ply his trade," he said.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 907-786-8900. To report a tip anonymously call CrimeStoppers at 561-STOP.
Reach Zaz Hollander at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4317. Reporter Nathaniel Herz contributed to this story.