State Briefs

Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Police locate apparent stolen property

JUNEAU - Juneau police early this morning found two vehicles full of teenage boys and allegedly stolen property at Melvin Park in the Mendenhall Valley.

No charges have been filed against the youths - five 16-year-olds and two 17-year-olds - but the investigation is continuing, police said.

Police received several reports Monday night and early today of vehicles that were rifled in Douglas, downtown Juneau and the Valley. At 4:15 a.m. they contacted youths in two parked cars at Melvin Park.

Police found car stereos, backpacks and other property of the sort that people leave in cars, Sgt. Kevin Siska said. He couldn't immediately say what the recovered property was worth.

The boys were released to their parents.

Police asked anyone who has had property stolen from a vehicle recently to contact them.

Man injured in hiking accident

JUNEAU - Juneau resident Toby Harbanuk, 19, is resting at home after a fall while hiking down Mount Roberts on Sunday afternoon.

Bruce Bowler, team manager for the rescue group SEADOGS, said Harbanuk was hiking alone Sunday at about 3:30 p.m. when he decided to "zig-zag" down the face of Mount Roberts. On his way down Harbanuk slipped and fell onto some rocks, Bowler said.

"He was pretty well banged up," Bowler said, noting that Harbanuk suffered a broken nose and several lacerations.

After falling Harbanuk hiked an additional 500 feet down the side of the mountain to Thane Road, where he hitchhiked to Bartlett Regional Hospital.

Juneau Mountain Rescue and SEADOGS, Southeast Alaska Dogs Organized for Ground Search, were called out to the rescue scene at about 6 p.m. but ended the search after Harbanuk was reported receiving treatment at the hospital.

Anchorage parents, police differ on causes of melee

ANCHORAGE - Angry parents and teenagers bombarded Mayor George Wuerch and Anchorage police commanders Monday with questions about what police called a riot that broke out after a Fur Rendezvous teen dance.

Parents complained police used unnecessary force late Saturday night when they used pepper spray on some of the teens.

Police also released a stack of reports on the incident that provided new details, including indications of security lapses at the Egan Civic and Convention Center, where the dance was held.

Wuerch said he called the public briefing Monday so parents and other people could come together, relieve their frustrations and get some information. Roughly 200 showed up.

"This is an incident that is not fully and completely investigated yet," Wuerch said.

The annual Fur Ball for 14- to 19-year-olds was marred by fights on the dance floor that police said appeared gang-related. Some teens went to the dance looking for fights, police said. The fights eventually spilled into the streets outside the center.

"We simply didn't have the resources to react to all the . . . violations that were occurring," officer Jeffrey Bell wrote in his report. A call went out that an officer needed help, and eventually 70 officers were on the scene.

On Monday, Wuerch told parents he regretted what happened but was relieved that there was no serious injury or major property damage. One teenager was taken to the hospital by paramedics. Two juveniles and two adults were arrested.

A woman asked Wuerch why he didn't apologize.

"I quite honestly have no apology for the way it was handled. I think we should have an apology for the way the children behaved. But that's another subject," the mayor said.

Later, after hearing from multiple parents alleging improper force by police, Wuerch apologized to any families whose children were mistreated. Police Capt. Audie Holloway said reviews so far don't indicate any excessive force.

Shipper offers vessel to transport military hardware

ANCHORAGE - Anchorage-based Totem Ocean Trailer Express has volunteered one of its three ships to transport military hardware to the Persian Gulf.

The S.S. Northern Lights left the Port of Tacoma last week with a crew of 25 on its way to San Diego, where it will be loaded with military cargo destined for Kuwait City, said Bob Magee, TOTE's chief executive. TOTE is one of two major shipping companies that move goods by sea to Alaska from the Lower 48. CSX Lines is the other.

The company offered the Northern Lights at the request of the Military Sealift Command, the arm of the Navy that provides ocean transportation of equipment, fuel, supplies and ammunition to sustain U.S. forces overseas.

Built in 1974, the Northern Lights is 791 feet long and can carry 12,000 metric tons of material, equivalent to more than 400 over-the-road trailers. It will be under military charter for 90 days, Magee said.

The Sealift Command operates a fleet of more than 120 noncombat, civilian-crewed ships around the world and has access to others that are kept in reduced operating status ready to be activated if needed. It also charters commercial ships when needed.

Magee said TOTE replied to the Sealift Command's request after learning from a ship broker that the outfit needed a ship capable of transporting military vehicles in a hurry.

"They urged us to respond even though we didn't know if we would have adequate backup capacity at that time," Magee said.

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