Alaska Briefs

Posted: Sunday, August 24, 2003

Witnesses help nab McDonald's suspects

ANCHORAGE - Witnesses with cell phones helped Anchorage police catch five people who reportedly robbed a McDonald's restaurant at gunpoint Thursday night.

Anchorage police said a woman at the drive-through window created a diversion a little before 11 p.m., while four young men went into the restaurant bathroom and put on hoods and bandanas.

The young men then came out with a shotgun and ordered three employees to lie on the ground while the manager got money from the safe, police said. None of the employees was injured.

People in two cars outside the restaurant witnessed the robbery and called police on cell phones.

The robbers ran from the restaurant and got into a Mercury Topaz, but had not yet left the parking lot when police arrived, Anchorage Police spokesman Ron McGee said.

One of the witnesses pointed out the car to police by signaling with his headlights, McGee said. Officers then took five people into custody at gunpoint.

They arrested Trey F. Smith, 20, and Rakiesha Walker, 19, on charges of first-degree robbery, second-degree theft and third-degree assault. Three boys ages 15, 16 and 17, were arrested on the same charges.

Alaska gets $51 million in transportation funds

ANCHORAGE - The U.S. Department of Transportation is rewarding $51 million in federal funds for Alaska projects.

U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican, secured the money in federal budget year 2003 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.

The funds include $5.7 million to finish security upgrades at Anchorage's international airport, where a 3-year-old child was recently abducted briefly by a man with a record of sex offenses. The funds will be used to install closed-circuit television cameras throughout the airport and improve access control to security doors, said Jennifer Payne, an airport spokeswoman.

The total cost of the security improvements is $12 million and this latest appropriation will complete the work, Payne said.

The funding also is earmarked to improve aprons, taxiways or runways at Galena, Yakutat, Birch Creek and Petersburg.

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