A 31-year-old Juneau man on Tuesday night went to meet a man selling a toolbox advertised on Craigslist. He ended up running away from two men when they threatened him with a blue aluminum Copperhead baseball bat.
The Craigslist sale gone awry — partly a case of guilt by association and partly of being at the wrong place at the wrong time — ended with the two men behind bars for threatening the man with the baseball bat, police say. Potential drug-related charges are also pending, according to police.
The incident began when the 31-year-old met the toolbox seller at his storage near the Lemon Creek Breeze In around 8 p.m. As the two went toward the storage unit, the 31-year-old noticed a white Ford pickup truck following them. All of a sudden, the seller ran away, leaving the potential buyer alone.
Unbeknownst to the 31-year-old, the seller — whose identity is unknown — had just stolen a cellphone and $60 from the two men in the white Ford truck, police said. The man had gotten into the backseat of their truck, inspected the cellphone, then ran away with the phone and cash.
The two men in the white truck, whom police identified as 21-year-old Shawn Zachary Miller and 27-year-old Matthew Leon Brown, saw the man hop into the 31-year-old’s truck, police said.
Thinking he was friends with the thief, Miller and Brown approached the 31-year-old and asked him “in an accusatory manner” what he had given him, police said. The 31-year-old became afraid, got in his truck and began driving toward the Juneau Police Department station. But he saw the white truck drive away, thought the incident was over and returned to his storage unit.
About 10 minutes later, Miller and Brown returned in the truck — this time with a baseball bat, police said. In an attempt to get their money and cell phone back, they demanded to know where the other man was. Eventually, they realized the 31-year-old did not know the thief and they drove away.
The 31-year-old called 911, and responding police officers located Miller and Brown’s white truck nearby in the area of Glacier Highway and Anka Street. They were pulled over and arrested on suspicion of assault.
Lt. David Campbell, a spokesman for JPD, said the men did not physically injure the 31-year-old man but they placed him in fear of imminent physical injury, which warrants a misdemeanor assault charge.
“If you actually cause injury with a dangerous instrument, then it’s a felony,” he added.
There’s an additional drug element involved in the case, Campbell said. When police pulled over the truck and removed Miller and Brown, they looked to see if anyone else was inside since it had heavily tinted windows, Campbell said. The officers saw the baseball bat and drug paraphernalia in plain view. Campbell said police then applied for and were granted a search warrant to seize both items. They seized the bat as evidence and the controlled substance that is being sent to the Crime Lab to be analyzed, Campbell said. Campbell could not say what the drug was, but specified it was not marijuana.
Police do not know the identity of the man selling the toolbox on Craigslist. Campbell said his first name is Zach but his last name and age is unknown.
Police did not release the name of the 31-year-old since he is a victim of a crime.
“He was just there to buy something off of Craigslist,” Campbell said.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at email@example.com.