What started as a reported kidnapping in Wasilla turned into a very public crash

A case that started as a report of a man kidnapped and held for ransom quickly turned into a brief chase and crash at Wasilla's main intersection, Wasilla police say.

The initial report came Wednesday from a woman who said a man was being held at gunpoint in exchange for drugs or money, according to police spokeswoman Amanda Graham. The woman owned the car he was in and described it: a black Dodge sedan. She said it was in Wasilla.

Alaska State Troopers, including SWAT-like Special Emergency Reaction Team members, joined Wasilla police in looking for the car, Graham said. They found it near the city library on Main Street and tried to stop it.

The driver attempted to drive away but ran a red light nearby at the busy Parks Highway and crashed into other vehicles, police said. A "significant number" of law enforcement officers in the area for the kidnapping report circled the Dodge, which damaged two other vehicles in the mayhem, Graham said.

That's when it became clear that the "victim" of the kidnapping was actually the driver of the car, she said. He was identified as 43-year-old Kenneth Coburn of Anchorage.

Police arrested Coburn for failing to stop at the direction of a police officer and third-degree assault. They also arrested another man in the car, 32-year-old Jordan Melton of Wasilla, on an outstanding warrant for drug charges. A female who was also in the car was not arrested.

One person in the car suffered minor injuries in the crash, police said.


A video shot by a driver who happened to arrive at the intersection during the arrest shows at least a half-dozen police and trooper cars surrounding the Dodge and at least one person on the ground. Several officers or troopers had guns drawn.

Coburn was taken to Mat-Su Pretrial Facility on $20,000 cash/corporate bail and was scheduled for arraignment Thursday in Palmer.

Zaz Hollander

Zaz Hollander is a veteran journalist based in the Mat-Su and is currently an ADN local news editor and reporter. She covers breaking news, the Mat-Su region, aviation and general assignments. Contact her at