Crime & Courts

Anchorage man told school bus driver he would kill her before trying to board the bus, police say

An Anchorage man told a school bus driver he would kill her Wednesday morning and then tried to board the bus that was transporting five special-needs students to school, according to a court document filed by prosecutors.

That man, 38-year-old David Lee, appeared in court twice Friday wearing a yellow prison uniform. He faces a string of charges from earlier incidents, as well as 10 new felony charges and three misdemeanors from Wednesday.

Prosecutors say police tried to arrest Lee earlier Wednesday, shortly before he attempted to board the school bus.

According to the court document signed by Assistant District Attorney Megan Rodgers, police officers were sent to East Anchorage around 8:40 a.m. Wednesday for a report that a white Chevy Cavalier was parked in a southbound lane on Muldoon Road, near Wildbrook Court.

There, an officer found Lee leaning back in the driver's seat, his head leaning forward. A 1911 semi-automatic pistol with its hammer cocked back was lodged between the car's center console area and the driver's seat, said the court document.

Lee then woke up and tried to drive away. The officer tried to pull the vehicle over, but Lee didn't stop. He wove the car between traffic.

The officer stopped pursuing Lee and pulled over to ask for case numbers for eluding, the document said.

While he did that, police got another call that the Chevy Cavalier was now repeatedly ramming a school bus just a few blocks south, near 36th Avenue and Upland Drive.

"The driver of the school bus was very scared and nearly crying but there were no obvious injuries," the court document said.

The bus driver told police she was driving down the street and passed the Chevy Cavalier. The car did a U-turn and started driving toward the bus. The Cavalier's driver tried to squeeze the car between the school bus and a parked van, hitting the front corner of the bus.

"The driver than backed up about 100 feet and accelerated and hit the bus again until the bus became disabled," the document said.

The bus driver told police that the Cavalier driver got out of his car with something in his hand that she thought was a gun. He walked to the front of the bus, pointed it at her and told her he knows what she looks like and would kill her, according to the court document from prosecutors.

"She said he had crazy eyes and that when he said that she looked away from him," the document said. "She was afraid Lee was going to shoot her and the kids. Lee tried to get on the bus but could not get in."

The bus was bound for Baxter Elementary School that morning. None of the children inside the bus were hurt, said an Anchorage School District spokeswoman.

A witness said she went outside Wednesday morning to ask if Lee was all right. She told police the man had a cellphone in one hand and a pistol in the other, the document said.

He ran away, she told police.

Police set up a search within a large perimeter of East Anchorage and three schools went into "stay put" mode, bringing students inside and locking their doors.

Officers found Lee inside a white BMW around 10 a.m. Wednesday and arrested him.

Lee first gave officers the ID for a person who was too short to be him. Then, he told officers his name was Joseph Robinson, the court document said. He said he would physically fight police if they tried to force him to provide fingerprints, it said.

Police said witnesses identified Lee as the man ramming the school bus.

When Lee appeared in court Thursday, he told the judge they had arrested the wrong man in Wednesday's incident, KTUU reported. And the judge, Michael Wolverton, agreed that the driver's license photograph circulating in the news was not that of the man in the courtroom, according to the local television station. He scheduled the hearing to continue the next day.

In that brief hearing Friday morning, Wolverton said fingerprints had confirmed police arrested the right person.

Assistant District Attorney Sarah Park said Lee had lost weight since the photograph was taken and he was under different lighting in the courtroom.

A judge Friday afternoon set Lee's bail at $100,000 across all of his opened cases. He cannot have contact with any victims and cannot be within 500 feet of any school.

By Friday evening, Lee remained at the Anchorage jail.

Correction: An earlier photo caption misidentified the defendant.

Tegan Hanlon

Tegan Hanlon was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News between 2013 and 2019. She now reports for Alaska Public Media.

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