Anchorage roommates' fight over $10 bet leads to attempted shooting

Casey Grove

An argument over an unpaid $10 bet led one Anchorage man to put a gun to his roommate's head and pull the trigger late Sunday, police say.

But the gun jammed, the roommate escaped, and the would-be shooter was arrested, police spokeswoman Anita Shell said.

It started when the 19-year-old victim -- identified in a charging document as Mahmoud Soud -- disagreed with his roommates about whether a nearby Carrs grocery store was open, Shell said. The roommates, 25-year-old James Smith and 23-year-old Kendrick Mathews, decided to put $10 on it, she said.

The younger man was wrong. The store was open. Then he did not want to pay up, Shell said.

Back at the mobile home they shared, at 1545 S. Hoyt St., an argument over the still-unpaid bet turned violent, Shell said. Smith allegedly pulled out a handgun, she said.

And there was more, according to the charging document: Soud had apparently told Smith's girlfriend Soud was "selling her stuff."

"Smith became angry upon hearing this and called Soud a 'snitch.' Smith then pointed a gun at Soud's left eye," the charges say.

The two men fought until Smith forced Soud into a bedroom, according to the charges. When Soud came back out to smooth things over, they got into another struggle, and the gun fell on the floor, the charges say.

"Soud said that Smith got his arm around Soud's neck and began to strangle him. Soud reported that Mathews picked the gun up and gave it to Smith," the charges say. "Smith then pointed the gun at Soud's head and tried to fire the gun, but it malfunctioned."

Then Mathews punched Soud, who eventually gained control of the firearm, according to the charges. Soud pointed the gun at Smith and told him "he did not want to shoot him," the charges say.

Soud ran for the door, but not before Smith hit him in the head with a metal floor-jack handle, the charges say.

The victim called 911 from a Holiday convenience store on Bragaw Street about 11:30 p.m., saying his roommate had just tried to kill him, said Shell, the police spokeswoman. Soud had injuries to his head, neck and face, the charges say.

A detective found the gun and confirmed it was loaded, Shell said. Officers arrested Smith, initially charging him with assault and attempted murder.

Later, state prosecutors changed the charges against Smith. He now faces one felony count of attempted first-degree assault and two felony counts of third-degree assault, as well as one misdemeanor count of fourth-degree assault. Mathews is charged with one misdemeanor count of fourth-degree assault.

There had not been a high number of police calls to the residence in the past, Shell said. The men did not appear to have been drinking Sunday night, Shell said.

"The detective said there was no indication of alcohol or drug use," Shell said. "It just escalated from somebody not wanting to pay the bet, and it went way too far."

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