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Crime & Courts

Suspect accused of stealing pickup, hitting victim with his own truck in Eagle River

  • Author: Matt Tunseth, Alaska Star
  • Updated: May 26
  • Published May 26

Homeowner David Dirkes points to damage caused when a man allegedly crashed a stolen vehicle early Saturday at the corner of Upper and Lower Sunny Circle in Eagle River. On Saturday afternoon, Brock Werder, 20, was arraigned on stolen vehicle charges related to the incident. (Matt Tunseth / Alaska Star)

A 20-year-old Eagle River man arrested one week ago for being a felon in possession of a handgun allegedly stole a pickup and struck the vehicle's owner Saturday morning in Eagle River.

Brock Werder was arraigned in Anchorage on Saturday on charges of vehicle theft and violating conditions of release after police said he crashed a vehicle in an Eagle River neighborhood and fled police on foot.

The vehicle's owner, Jean Orengade-Gaffory, sustained minor injuries and was released from the emergency room Saturday morning, according to his uncle, Anchorage attorney Patrick Bergt. Orengade-Gaffory posted a photo to Facebook on Saturday showing skid marks and a stand of broken trees at the intersection of Upper and Lower Sunny Circle near downtown Eagle River. In the post, Orengade-Gaffory said he was trying to stop the vehicle when it hit him.

"The person then floors it and runs me over causing me to spend the night in the hospital," he wrote.

According to charging documents, an Anchorage Police Department officer witnessed the stolen truck being driven through yards on Aberdeen Circle. The officer turned on his lights, but the truck swerved around him. The documents say the officer was waved down by Orengade-Gaffory, who was waving his arms and chasing the pickup as the officer drove past.

The officer continued in the direction of the pickup, and found damage to a fence and tree — but no vehicle. Shortly after, officers found the vehicle on Lower Sunny Circle with Werder's cellphone in the back seat. A witness reported seeing Werder walking from the vehicle toward a nearby house. Details of his arrest were not included in the charging documents, and police did not immediately have further details due to the holiday weekend.

However, according to the charging documents, Werder "admitted he did not own the vehicle or have reason to believe that he was allowed to be in the vehicle."

Skid marks at the corner of Upper and Lower Sunny Circle in Eagle River on Saturday, May 26, 2018. (Matt Tunseth / Alaska Star)

Lifelong Eagle River residents David Dirkes and Heather Louison live in the house at the corner of Upper and Lower Sunny where the truck struck a tree and fence outside their home. Louison said she was awakened from a deep sleep by the sound of screeching tires outside.

"Like total destruction is what it sounded like, it was horrible," she said as the couple stood outside their home Saturday afternoon surveying the damage, including a smashed chain-link fence and vehicle debris strewn across the lawn.

Skid marks at the corner appear to show tracks leading to a fence line and trees, then backing away and heading farther down Upper Sunny.

"You can see his path of destruction," Louison said.

Dirkes said he's owned the home for three years and said the incident is unusual for the area.

"Crime can happen anywhere," he said.

Heather Louison holds up part of a vehicle she found outside her home Saturday in Eagle River. (Matt Tunseth / Alaska Star)

At the time of Saturday's arrest, Werder was out on bond for a May 18 incident in which he was arrested for being a felon in possession of a handgun after a shooting incident in Birchwood. According to APD, police were waved down that day at around 5:10 p.m. near the intersection of the Birchwood Spur and Stoltze Road for a report of people standing outside a vehicle shooting a gun.

When an officer arrived, he allegedly saw one person throw a gun out a window of the vehicle. That person, Robert J. Carlton, 19, was arrested for being in possession of a stolen firearm. Police said Werder was searched, found to have a handgun, and arrested. Four juveniles in the vehicle were released to their parents.

Court records show Werder paid a $250 unsecured performance bond on Monday.

Records show he remained in custody Saturday night.

Email Matt Tunseth at editor@alaskastar.com or call 907-257-4274.

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