Police charge Vanbuskirk with Short Stop robbery

Homer Police on Thursday charged Dellan Vanbuskirk, 30, with the Jan. 6 armed robbery of the Short Stop Tesoro Gas Station on Baycrest Hill. Alaska State Troopers on Jan. 22 had earlier arrested Vanbuskirk at an Anchor Point home on a warrant for driving while license revoked.

Vanbuskirk will be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. Friday on two new charges of first-degree robbery. A second charge is for a Jan. 16 incident in which police said he robbed a man of drugs on the North Fork Anchor River bridge. Vanbuskirk will appear telephonically from the Wildwood Pretrial Facility in Kenai.

Last Friday, police put out a press release seeking the whereabouts of Vanbuskirk. A tip lead to him being arrested that afternoon by troopers at a Mark Lane home in Anchor Point. In the press release, Homer Police Chief Mark Robl said Vanbuskirk was a suspect in several recent crimes in Homer, but declined to name those crimes.

After the Short Stop robbery, Robl said police believed the Short Stop robber was the same man who robbed the Fat Olives Espresso on Dec. 28. In both cases, witnesses described the robber as a white man about 5-feet-8-inches tall and 150 pounds with light colored hair. The robber wore masks in both robberies, but the victims could see his eyes and upper nose. A video for the Short Stop robbery showed the suspect held a gun in his left hand.

Although the criminal complaint for the Short Stop robbery mentions the Fat Olives robbery and evidence connecting Vanbuskirk to both crimes, police have not yet charged Vanbuskirk for that robbery.

“He’s certainly our prime suspect in that case,” Robl said.

Robl credited good police work with tying Vanbuskirk to the Short Stop robbery. Sgt. Lary Kuhns is the lead investigator on the robberies. Several things tied Vanbuskirk to the Short Stop robbery, Robl said: he had the same physical appearance as witness descriptions of the robber, he’s left handed and police found the same brand of cigarettes, Marlboro Lights and Camels, in his home as had been taken in the robbery.

Police identified Vanbuskirk and other local men as potential suspects based on similarities to the appearance of the robber. Robl said Vanbuskirk also was a suspect based on a prior history of armed robbery. Police showed the victims of the robberies photos of those suspects, including Vanbuskirk, with the faces blocked off to show eyes, eyebrows and upper nose. The witnesses all indicated that a cropped photo of Vanbuskirk had facial features consistent with that of the robber.

After arresting Vanbuskirk, police interviewed him. In that interview he said he consumed four to five tenths, or 0.10 grams, of heroin or methamphetamine a day — a drug habit of about $200 to $250 a day. In a urine test, Vanbuskirk tested positive for opiates and meth, Kuhns wrote in an affidavit.

In addition to the driving while license revoked charge, Vanbuskirk was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct related to the Jan. 22 apprehension by troopers. Troopers said Vanbuskirk ran away when they tried to arrest him.

Vanbuskirk got an additional charge of third-degree escape when he tried to run away while being driven to Wildwood from Homer on Jan. 23. A jail officer had let him out of the van while handcuffed to vomit.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.