Visitors to our northernmost state are treated to stunning mountain vistas, terrific hunting opportunities and a front-row seat to Mother Nature’s own light show. While Alaska is known for its friendly, down-to-earth residents, unfortunately the cool air of the rugged north doesn’t always put the chill on violent crime.
Here are 10 stories of armed citizens who stopped criminals cold.
Twenty-two-year-old Matthew Willhite was at a shopping mall in Anchorage, Ala., with his girlfriend and her family when he witnessed a thief in a physical altercation with security guards. Willhite went to see if he could help, when he became aware that the thief was armed with a gun. Willhite responded by drawing a .45-cal. pistol and ordering the criminal to drop his gun. The thief complied with the order, and Willhite held the man at gunpoint until security placed the man in handcuffs. Following the incident, Willhite told a local media outlet that he has been carrying since he turned 18 when he lived in Nevada; open carrying before he could get a Nevada Right-to-Carry permit. Willhite also noted that at the time of the incident he was carrying without a permit, as it is lawful do in Alaska. (Alaska Dispatch News, Anchorage, Ala., 1/20/2016)
A homeowner was in his house in Anchorage, Ala., when he heard a knock at the door. The homeowner retrieved a gun and went to answer the door. Upon opening the door, an intruder pepper-sprayed the homeowner, prompting the homeowner to fire at the criminal. The attacker fled the scene. (KTVA, Anchorage, Ala., 11/13/2015)
An intoxicated burglar invaded two homes in Anchorage, Ala. The incident began when the criminal, Bowen Alexander, crashed the vehicle he was driving, and then broke into a home to steal the resident’s vehicle. Before he was able to steal the vehicle, Alexander left the residence and entered an adjacent home. This resident heard the commotion, and fired on Alexander. The shot missed, but Alexander immediately fled, falling through a window on his way out, causing minor injuries. The police were able to apprehend Alexander, with the help of a canine unit. Alexander faces charges including assault, burglary, driving under the influence and resisting arrest. (Anchorage Daily News, Anchorage, Ala., 11/16/2008)
When Matthew Schneider pulled into his driveway and got out of his truck, three teenagers approached and began an altercation. According to authorities, Schneider told the youths to vacate his property, but they began assaulting him, even slamming the truck door on his head. Schneider, who has a concealed-carry permit, reached for his .40 pistol and fired twice at his assailants. “I thought they were going to kill me if I didn’t do something,” Schneider said. Two suspects fled, one of them wounded, while a third collapsed. Schneider says he prayed for the fallen suspect to survive, but he died at the scene. (Anchorage Daily News, Anchorage, Ala., 11/4/2006)
An Anchorage, Ala., man’s odd rampage through Long Lake State Recreation Site was halted when he attacked one of the campers with a knife and the camper shot him. Police report that around 6 a.m., John Dundas was spinning around the campground’s parking lot in his pickup truck, annoying other campers. He then began setting off fireworks, raising the ire of fellow campers. According to Alaska State Police spokesman Greg Wilkinson, “A bunch of people came over and say, ‘Hey, knock it off.’ He says, ‘OK, OK, I quit. I’ll be good.’” Dundas then reportedly returned to his truck and pulled a knife from his toolbox and threatened one of the campers with it. The camper pulled out a handgun and warned the troublemaker to back away. That’s when Dundas took a swipe toward the camper with his knife and the camper shot him. (Anchorage Daily News, Anchorage, Ala., 8/28/2001)
A Spenard, Ala., motel clerk was alone at work early one morning when a man burst in waving a gun and demanding money. “He threw a gym bag down on the counter and said he wanted the whole thing,” reported the worker, who was armed with a .38-cal. handgun for which he has a carry permit. The bandit’s tenor intensified, however, when he realized there was little cash to steal. “He said he was going to kill me,” said the clerk who, facing death, pulled the gun from his vest and fired twice. He was forced to shoot again seconds later when the man attempted to get up. The wounded, would-be robber finally surrendered and was transported to a hospital under the watchful eye of police. The robbery attempt marked the third such incident at the motel in only a month. (Anchorage Daily News, Anchorage, Ala., 2/2/2001)
The drunken man asked the clerk in an Anchorage, Ala., gas station to call him a cab, then in a fit of agitation at being asked to wait for it outside, pulled a gun and attempted to rob the place. Alerted by the clerk, two mechanics, one of them armed with a gun he keeps in his toolbox, followed the man outside where the three became mired in a standoff. Upon arriving on the scene, the cab driver discovered what was happening, drew his own gun and shoved it into the robber’s neck. The armed mechanic and cabbie then forced the suspect to the ground where he was held for police. (The Daily News, Anchorage, Ala., 10/26/1996)
The bandit had been attempting to take money from the cash register of the Anchorage, Ala., liquor store, when store owner Billy Williams Jr. yelled at him from the back office. The crook then leveled a gun at Williams, threatening to kill him as the merchant tried to flee through the back door. Realizing the door was locked, Williams grabbed his .357 and, after the robber followed him to the back of the store and threatened to kill him yet again, shot the suspect. The wounded robber fled with an accomplice and the pair were soon arrested. (The Daily News, Anchorage, Ala., 5/11/1996)
Anchorage, Ala., resident Kellie Duff is considered a hero by her neighbors. Arriving home one evening with her three young daughters in tow, Duff surprised three teenage burglars exiting the front door of her home. They tried to get in their car and leave, but Duff blocked their escape with her truck. She then held them at bay with a .30-’06 as her oldest daughter ran to call police. (The Daily News, Anchorage, Ala., 1/8/1995)
Fired from his job at a work camp, an Alaska man decided to exact revenge by getting a rifle from his truck and going on a shooting spree. He was stopped before he could hurt anyone when another employee pulled a .44 mag and shot him in the ankle. (The Daily News, Anchorage, Ala., 5/5/1993)