30 Thorne Bay residents make citizens arrest of suspects in assault of 55-year-old man

Posted: Thursday, May 25, 2006

KETCHIKAN - A crowd of about 30 Thorne Bay residents made a citizens arrest of three teenagers suspected of assaulting a 55-year-old man.

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Richard Pitcher, 18, was subsequently charged Monday with felony assault and minor-age drinking. Two boys age 16 and 13 were charged with assault and drinking as minors, referred to juvenile authorities and released to their parents.

The teens claimed the crowd used excessive force in restraining them and Alaska State Troopers are investigating.

Thorne Bay is a community of about 500 people 47 miles northwest of Ketchikan on the east coast of Prince of Wales Island.

The 55-year-old man was attacked near the Thorne Bay Market at about 7:50 p.m. He suffered a cut eye and bruises on his head and face.

City Administrator and Fire Chief Michael Harper told the Ketchikan Daily News that word of the assault spread quickly across a local radio system established for emergencies.

About 30 Thorne Bay residents responded to the initial assault report.

The suspects fled and armed themselves with a pipe, a wrench and a large rock, according to Trooper Robert Claus.

The crowd confronted the teens and Pitcher threatened one in the group with a large rock, witnesses said. The man pulled out a handgun and pointed it at Pitcher, according to Claus, and Pitcher put the rock down.

Claus said it took him about an hour to drive from Klawock to Thorne Bay.

He found the suspects bound by rope and duct tape struggling to get loose. The assault victim told Claus that the two boys punched him repeatedly in the face while Pitcher stood by, swinging a golf club in a threatening manner. The man joined the group of people who arrested the three and told Claus that he saw Pitcher threaten one of the men "with a boulder," Claus said.

Pitcher was charged with third-degree assault, a felony, and jailed in Craig.

He was ordered held on $2,750 bail. He remained jailed Wednesday afternoon.

The three teens accused the arresting citizens of using excessive force. Claus said troopers would investigate.

One of the three said he had been hogtied, with a piece of rope passed through his mouth to quiet him, Claus said.

"I didn't see that," he said.

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