Floyd Hall, the man who has taken it upon himself to find the stolen vehicles of Anchorage, said he was shot at while he was trying to recover a stolen truck Tuesday — a week before he was scheduled to face trial over a similar incident that happened in 2017.
Police said patrol officers responded to a shots fired call around 11:15 a.m. Tuesday near Lois Drive and Spenard Road in West Anchorage, and found a man — who Hall later identified as himself — with a stolen 2002 Chevrolet Silverado.
Hall said he was following the stolen truck when it pulled into a dead end near Lois Drive and turned around, and he claimed that when he followed it, the driver pulled alongside his car facing the opposite direction and brandished a gun, telling him, “Stop following me or I’ll shoot you.”
The driver then pulled away, firing a round into the ground behind Hall’s car, Hall said.
Hall said he continued following the truck for another two blocks while talking with a 911 dispatcher before the driver pulled into a residential driveway and fled on foot toward Spenard Road, Hall and police said.
Police found shell casings at the scene, and described the suspect as being a white man wearing a dark or grey top with blue jeans.
Neither Hall nor the driver was arrested in connection with Tuesday’s incident, Anchorage police spokesman MJ Thim said.
“They had a little stern talking to me,” Hall said of police.
Thim said that while the police department welcomes community involvement in its crime fighting, it draws the line when members of the public place themselves in harm’s way.
“The community is a vital partner in all of our investigations,” Thim said in an email. “However, there is a public safety threat line the community can’t cross that only officers can due to the extreme danger and extreme harm potential to the public.”
This isn’t the first time the driver of a suspected stolen vehicle has shot at Hall. The first time, in 2017, was during what police called a “high-speed chase” that stuck Hall with a reckless driving charge and two counts of reckless endangerment.
Hall has been battling those longstanding charges for nearly two years. Last month, he came within inches of signing a plea agreement with prosecutors after months of back-and-forth over what he would and would not be allowed to do during his three-year probation period before ultimately opting to go to trial.
Municipal prosecutors had originally asked that he not be allowed to “chase, follow or otherwise pursue” stolen vehicles, but for Hall, that wasn’t an option.
Instead, Hall’s pro bono lawyer, Joshua Fink, settled on language that would bar his client only from “chasing” stolen vehicles — something Hall said doesn’t pose a barrier to his vehicle-recovery efforts, since, as he tells it, he follows vehicles but doesn’t chase them.
That would have been the end of it, were it not for an additional two sentences in the plea agreement that Hall said he hadn’t seen until the day his lawyer was scheduled to file for a change of plea: “Defendant shall not contact, directly or indirectly, any suspected car thief," and “Defendant shall not touch or move any vehicle without consent of its owner.”
Unlike the first part of the agreement, those two provisions would interfere with how Hall and his cohorts recover vehicles, he said.
Typically, he said, when the he and his group of vehicle recoverers, who call themselves the “A Team,” spot a stolen vehicle, they will get the owner’s permission to let the air out of the tires so the suspected thief can’t drive away. If the driver notices what the team is doing, though, Hall won’t shy away from telling them that the vehicle is stolen and that the police are on the way.
There are risks involved with going to trial. Since he won’t be accepting the plea agreement, he’ll still be on the hook for the two reckless endangerment counts, which would otherwise have been dismissed.
The consequences if he’s convicted would also be more severe — both reckless driving and reckless endangerment carry penalties of up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
On top of that, Hall’s volunteer attorney, Fink, has dropped him as a client, unable to go to trial working pro bono, Hall said. Hall will be represented at trial by a public defender instead. The Daily News was unable to reach Fink for comment Tuesday and last week.
Hall is set to meet with his new attorney for the first time Wednesday, and he will be in court May 2, Hall said.
Police asked anyone with information about Tuesday’s suspected truck thief, including surveillance video, to call dispatch at 311.