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Crime & Courts

Anchorage police search for shotgun-wielding thieves after 2 gas stations robbed hours apart

  • Author: Laurel Andrews
  • Updated: April 18, 2018
  • Published April 18, 2018

Image of the vehicle used in a robbery at the Shell gas station on 810 W. Tudor Road on Tuesday. (Photo via Anchorage Police Department)

The robbery took less than a minute.

At 5:48 p.m. Tuesday, a dark-colored Chevy SUV pulled up to the Shell gas station on Tudor Road. Surveillance video showed three men getting out, hoods over their heads, as the driver waited in the SUV. One carried a shotgun. They walked into the store, with no customers and no employee to be seen. One man grabbed the register and took it to the SUV. The other two walked around the store.

Then an employee emerged from a back area. The man with the gun pointed it toward the employee, who quickly retreated. The armed man took a few steps forward, firing a single shot in the employee's direction, then a few more as he backed out of the store, into the SUV.

And then the four men were gone. Despite the shots fired, nobody was hurt. Afterward, the gas station was hazy with smoke from the gunfire.

A sign in the window of the 2GO Tesoro gas station in the Government Hill neighborhood Wednesday. (Kyle Hopkins / ADN)

The robbery was one of two that took place Tuesday at gas stations in different Anchorage neighborhoods. Police say that the two robberies could be connected, based on the way in which the crimes were committed, similar suspect vehicles and other details.

Just before midnight Tuesday night, a 2GO Tesoro gas station on Hollywood Drive in Government Hill was robbed by three men, police spokesman MJ Thim said.

The men entered the store, one carrying a shotgun. The suspects stole the cash register and fled in a dark-colored Chevrolet Tahoe SUV, Thim said.

An employee at the Tesoro station said he couldn't comment, at the request of his employer.

An apparent break in the cases came around 11 a.m. Wednesday, when firefighters called police to say they had extinguished a suspicious blaze in Nunaka Valley.

Officers arrived to find charred cash registers and clothing, Thim said.

About a half-hour later, a stolen vehicle "similar to the getaway vehicle" used in both robberies was found, unoccupied and burning in a church parking lot in the 2200 block of Baxter Road.

Anchorage firefighter Brett Keene tends to a vehicle fire Wednesday morning in the parking lot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints off Baxter Road in East Anchorage. The stolen vehicle is “similar to the getaway vehicle”used in two Anchorage gas station robberies on Tuesday, police said. (Bill Roth/ADN)

The 2003 black Chevy Tahoe was reported stolen from a parking lot in the 7200 block of Lake Otis Parkway three days earlier, police said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, police hadn't yet verified whether the scorched vehicle was the getaway vehicle, "but it is a possibility that is being investigated," police said.

Police also received a report about a hit-and-run in the Fairview neighborhood, just before 9 a.m. Tuesday, at Sixth Avenue and Hyder Street. A Chevy SUV matching the make and model of the one used in the robberies rear-ended another vehicle and took off.

An officer on the scene told KTVA that the hit-and-run vehicle's license plate partially matched that of the vehicle used in the Shell gas station robbery.

"We don't know that for sure but everything that we see indicates that the vehicle was used in the robbery and hit-and-run," Sgt. Cameron Hokenson told a KTVA reporter at the scene.

Police Lt. John McKinnon said he couldn't confirm whether they were the same vehicle.

As for the robberies, no suspects had been identified as of Wednesday, and no arrests had been made, McKinnon said. He asked the public's help in finding the suspects.

During a robbery on Tuesday, one of the shots hit bags of candy on a display rack inside the Shell gas station at Tudor Road and Arctic Boulevard. Photographed on Wednesday. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Anyone with information about the suspects or vehicle to call police dispatch's non-emergency line at 311, or to submit an anonymous tip with Anchorage Crime Stoppers.

Twenty-four hours after the robbery, life continued on at the Shell gas station on Tudor Road, seemingly as usual.

In the back room, employees had gathered two bags of candy that had been blasted open by the shotgun. One employee found a few cans of Red Bull that had been damaged in the robbery. Customers came in to buy snacks.

A shotgun hole in the wall was still there, but it had been covered with a sign: Sandbags $7.99.

Inside the Shell gas station at Tudor Road and Arctic Boulevard after Tuesday’s robbery. Photographed on Wednesday. (Bill Roth / ADN)

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