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Crime & Courts

Police exchange gunfire with robbery suspects in South Anchorage pursuit

UPDATE 9 a.m. Tuesday:

Anchorage police on Tuesday morning said the suspects were Myles Gonangnan, 27, the alleged bike rider and a passenger in the SUV, and Shane Twigg, 35, driver of the SUV.

They face charges including robbery and eluding police, police said in a dispatch.

"Due to the violent nature of the crimes committed, Gonangnan and Twigg may face additional charges as the investigation continues," police said.

Original story:

Two men suspected of armed robbery Monday morning were in police custody after at least one fired at officers from an SUV during an attempted stop near the Costco on Dimond Boulevard, a police spokesman said.

Shots were exchanged between the suspects and police in a "chaotic" encounter that led to a pursuit as the suspects fled the area but soon returned, only to be nabbed in a police blockade, said police spokesman MJ Thim.

The SUV the suspects were driving crashed into trees near the main Dimond entrance to the warehouse store.

Shortly before noon, the area was littered with glass and a fallen street light that had been hit by a police cruiser. The only known injury in Monday's incident was suffered by the police officer who hit the street light. His injury was minor, Thim said.

Anchorage officers exchanged gunfire with suspects Monday morning near Dimond Boulevard and C Street, police said. The suspect vehicle came to rest at the entrance to Costco. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)

Thim said it was fortunate no passers-by were hurt during the shooting or the chase, which included the SUV driving the wrong way on multiple streets.

Police said they got two calls about armed robberies: one at a Caffe D'Arte drive-thru at Boniface Parkway and DeBarr Road and the other at the Heavenly Cup coffee stand at 8710 Lake Otis Parkway. The first robbery, at Caffe D'Arte, occurred shortly before 8:30 a.m., police said. The second came about one hour later, Thim said.

A man on a bicycle wearing a hoodie and aviator sunglasses, brandishing a gun, was reported to have robbed both shops, Thim said. The man reportedly loaded the bike into the SUV and escaped, Thim said.

Lori Brewer, owner of Caffe D'arte, said a man on a bike came up to the stand around 8 or 8:30 a.m. and held a gun up to the open window. Brewer said she wasn't there, but two employees, both women, were working at the time.

"The employees totally followed procedure," Brewer said. "The main thing is, give them the money and step completely out of sight."

She wouldn't say how much money was taken, but that the amount "was very minimal" because most people pay with cards.

"Our city obviously has a problem with crime right now," Brewer said, "and I feel like the espresso stands are doing a lot to make sure their teams are safe."

Marcie DeAvilla, owner of the Heavenly Cup, said a man attempted to rob the coffee shop but was unsuccessful. Thim was not available to answer questions Monday afternoon about the discrepancy between what police reported and what DeAvilla said.

A worker at the window, seeing a "pretty sketchy" man rolling up on a bike, was cautious, DeAvilla said. The employee saw the man reaching inside his jacket and saw a gun in a holster.

The worker warned another employee and they ducked out of sight behind a counter, DeAvilla said. The employees, also both women, called police for help, she said.

Security video showed the man trying to remove the gun from the holster. He was not successful and left on the bike, she said.

"He took no money, nothing," DeAvilla said.

DeAvilla said criminal activity has increased this year at her shops. Another Heavenly Cup drive-through at Minnesota Drive and Spenard Road has suffered two overnight break-ins this year, and was held up in January, she said.

The two suspects in Monday's incident, both uninjured, were in police custody and being questioned. Thim would not provide their names Monday.

An Anchorage police vehicle was damaged during an attempt to halt the suspects’ vehicle. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)

Police believe the robberies and shooting were not associated with other recent crimes, said Thim.

Police were also shot at Thursday night in another pursuit that ended in a stolen SUV being stopped at Ninth Avenue and L Street downtown. A man and woman were taken into custody in that incident, including the alleged driver, Alexander S. Lemana, 23. A third suspect escaped.

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