(ANCHORAGE) KTUU - Police in San Juan, Puerto Rico have arrested a 17-year-old suspect in the armed robbery and shooting of Kendric Tyler of Anchorage. Kendric is a counselor at McLaughlin Youth Center. His wife, Kenyada Tyler, runs a small business. The couple were robbed May 1 near a convention center in San Juan after wrapping up a cruise to celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary.
An armed robbery in Puerto Rico has left an Anchorage couple -- who'd been waiting a year since their marriage to go on their honeymoon -- stuck in the island territory.
Kenyada Tyler told KTUU that her husband is now paralyzed from the neck down and that doctors do not believe he will regain use of his arms and legs. Kendric has moved out of the intensive care unit and plans are being made to transport him to South Carolina or Georgia, where he can receive specialized care and be closer to family support.
Police would not release the suspect's name because he is a juvenile. Law enforcement officials did say the youth is suspected of similar crimes, although Tyler is the only victim to be wounded. The 17-year-old suspected of being the motorcycle-riding masked gunman was out on bail when the Tylers were mugged, said Capt. Ferdinand Acosta, who works in the criminal investigation department.
Tyler was shot with a 40-caliber, semi-automatic weapon, Acosta said. The suspect could be arraigned Thursday evening on attempted murder, robbery and weapons violations, depending on what prosecutors choose to move forward with.
“This is a sad and unfortunate situation and our thoughts are with the victim, his wife and their family during this time," the Hon. Luis G. Rivera Marín, Secretary of State, Government of Puerto Rico, said in a prepared statement sent to KTUU by email Thursday evening. "The government of Puerto Rico is in the process of reaching out to the government of Alaska to help the victim and his wife return to Alaska as soon as medical professionals believe he is ready to do so."
Kenyada Tyler, who is staying a local hotel, identified the suspect in a lineup at the police station Thursday afternoon.
"(We) have made the decision to forgive, and to realize that he's lost. He's lost his life. He's lost his future. And we've lost, too. But we're choosing not to let anger engulf our hearts," Kenyada told KTUU in an interview after the police lineup.
She described the crime in more detail, explaining how the masked gunman approached the couple, who were sitting on a park bench near a pond, and demanded money. The gunman pointed the gun at her, then turned his attention on Kendric.
"The guy walked up to hit my husband in the head with the gun. and that's when my husband grabbed the gun and tried to dearm him," Kenyada said. When the gunman escaped Tyler's grip, "he took a few steps back and he just shot him. And my husband he just immediately fell straight to the ground."
Kenyada used a bystander's sweater to help stop the bleeding until paramedics could arrive and take over.
She's overwhelmed with tasks: coordinating care, finding the right size neck brace for her husband, helping a good Samaritan bring by a piece of cheesecake for Kendric to eat, wondering how much of the transport and medical costs their health insurance will cover, keeping family and Kendric's children updated. The gravity of the situation hits her hardest when she's back at the hotel, alone. Far away from the vacation they'd imagined together, she's now re-imagining a future with her football-player husband who is now helpless to care for himself.
Kendric plays as a defensive lineman for the Anchorage Cowboys, a team within the Alaska Football League, which promotes amateur football.
If his health remains stable, he could be cleared for travel via medevac within a week.
"I'm just happy that my husband is alive. We have some serious challenges. But I'm just so grateful that he's still here," she said.