Anchorage police have arrested five males in a series of armed robberies dating back to March, including two picked up at the scene of a South Anchorage brawl which ended in gunfire earlier this month.
According to a Tuesday statement on the case from APD spokesperson Jennifer Castro, the case involves three adults and two juveniles -- Gatdor Reat, 20, Matthew Colding, 19, and Andy Garcia, 18, as well as Terry Pierce, 16, and Changkuoth Kueth, 17, both charged as adults. All five are in custody and facing at least one count of first-degree robbery.
“The charges come after dozens of hours of investigative work conducted by APD'S Robbery/Assault Detective Unit,” Castro wrote. “All suspects have been arrested and taken to the Anchorage Jail.”
Castro says the rash of spring robberies began with a March 8 call at about 11:30 p.m. from the 11000 block of Tulin Park Loop. A woman who answered the door suddenly found several men barging into the residence. Pierce, Garcia, Reat and Colding were all charged in the incident.
“It was reported to police that the suspects held her and her son at gunpoint and robbed the residence,” Castro wrote.
A second incident nine days later, on the 12000 block of Brandon Street, allegedly involved all five suspects. The victims told Channel 2 they had been threatened at gunpoint to lie down and not interfere with the robbery, an order with which they complied.
On March 29, police were informed of a case on the 16000 block of Centerfield Drive, in which only Garcia has been charged.
“It was reported to police that three black males had entered the home, held the victim at gunpoint and took several items from his home,” Castro wrote. “It was reported to police that the males fled on foot and the victim did not know them.”
The fourth and final case involved an attempted robbery just after midnight April 2 on the 3000 block of East 65th Avenue, in which police questioned five people but ultimately charged only Kueth, Garcia and Reat.
The participants in the individual robberies may have varied, with the suspects receiving a robbery charge for each scene at which APD placed them. Castro says the presence of deadly force was a consistent element throughout the case.
“In every single case the witnesses reported that the robbers were armed with a gun,” Castro said.
Police received a break in the case on the night of Aug. 13, when two of the five suspects -- Garcia and Colding -- were at the parking lot of the Old Seward Highway Sports Authority to watch a fight between two men which escalated into open gunfire. While neither of them were involved in the incident itself, police happened to be ready to act on the robbery case.
“The indictment came down the day before,” Castro said.
After the fight, both Garcia and Colding were taken into custody on their robbery warrants, with Garcia also charged with sixth-degree misconduct involving controlled substances.
“There’s two suspects in there, Andy Garcia and Matthew (Colding), who we picked up as we were investigating that shooting,” Castro said. “They were not charged in that incident, but when we picked them up they had warrants for their arrest and we took them into custody.”
Castro says the most important piece of the investigation may yet come from the public, as police seek more information about the case.
“We believe that there may be more suspects involved,” Castro said. “We’re hoping to get some more information, which could lead us to other suspects or hopefully more charges.”
Anyone who believes they were robbed by one or more of the suspects, or has information on the robberies reported so far, is asked to call APD’s Robbery/Assault unit sergeant at 786-2444 or Crime Stoppers at 561-STOP.
Editor's note: An inaccurately reported quote from APD spokesperson Jennifer Castro on Garcia and Colding not being charged in the South Anchorage Sports Authority shooting, which initially said they were not involved, has been corrected.