Troopers catch theft suspect after 4-hour standoff in AP

Dellan Vanbuskirk in a 2016 mug shot. (Photo courtesy Homer Police)

Dellan Vanbuskirk in a 2016 mug shot. (Photo courtesy Homer Police)

A four-hour standoff in Anchor Point on Tuesday night that involved Alaska State Troopers and a Special Emergency Response Team ended without incident when troopers arrested a man wanted for vehicle theft.

Troopers found Dellan Vanbuskirk, 32, hiding underneath his trailer, and arrested him for first- and second-degree vehicle theft and third-degree criminal mischief, all felonies. Vanbuskirk also had an arrest warrant related to December 2017 charges of first- and second-degree burglary, second-degree theft, first-degree vehicle theft and first-degree criminal trespass. No one else was in the trailer during the standoff.

The sight at about 4 p.m. on Tuesday of trooper and SERT vehicles — including an armored Bearcat assault truck — with sirens screaming and heading south on the Sterling Highway lit up social media on Tuesday afternoon. The SERT staged at the Anchor Point Post near Chapman School and troopers later surrounded Vanbuskirk’s home on La Duquesa Lane near Mile 154.5 Sterling Highway.

Mike Barrett, who lives with his wife Colleen near La Duquesa Lane, said Colleen had been driving home when she heard a voice on a loudspeaker say, “This is the Alaska State Troopers. You are surrounded.”

“She thought they were talking to her. She stopped the car real quick,” Barrett said in a phone interview on Tuesday night.

Throughout the standoff from his home a few hundred yards away, Barrett said he could hear troopers attempting to get Vanbuskirk to give himself up.

“That’s all we heard was the bullhorn, the things they told them. They warned them numerous times ‘We’re coming in shooting,’” Barrett said. “… They kept warning them, ‘It’s going to get worse. It’s going to get worse.’”

Barrett said he heard sounds of tear gas or something similar being fired. According to a trooper press release, troopers tried for several hours to make visual contact and deployed chemical munitions into the home to get Vanbuskirk to come out. They also searched the inside of the trailer before finding Vanbuskirk under it. Troopers took him into custody about 8 p.m.

The incident began about 1 p.m. when troopers went to a report of a stolen Yamaha Viking side-by-side all-terrain vehicle from a trailer on Van Seventer Avenue off the Old Sterling Highway in Anchor Point. According to a criminal complaint, Trooper Sgt. Daniel Cox and Trooper Jeremiah Baum went to the home, and with the help of the ATV’s owner, found tire tracks which led to Vanbuskirk’s trailer home on La Duquesa Lane. Cox said he had seen Vanbuskirk in the Van Sventer Avenue area earlier when he tried to serve a warrant.

The ATV owner said he believed Vanbuskirk had stolen the ATV. The thief also damaged the trailer in getting the ATV off it. Cox wrote that he followed the tire tracks to the ATV and then footprints from the ATV to Vanbuskirk’s trailer home. Cox said he knew from previous contacts with Vanbuskirk that he lived at the La Duquesa Lane home. Troopers found the key to the ATV and shoes matching the footprints in the trailer. Several thousand dollars of damage had been caused to the trailer when it was stolen and driven around.

Anchor Point residents in the area wrote a running account of the trooper standoff on the South Peninsula Road Conditions Facebook page, a page to alert lower peninsula drivers of bad roads, accidents and other problems. A member of the group, Joshua Rae, had alerted drivers of the caravan of speeding law enforcement vehicles. Barrett said the sounds of bullhorns and the trooper response was unusual for the family-oriented neighborhood.

“That’s kind of a weird thing to hear in the back woods of Anchor Point,” Barrett said. “We sat here in our living room hearing flash bangs going off. That’s a new experience.”

Vanbuskirk has an extensive criminal history. In 2016, Homer Police accused him of in December 2015 robbing at gunpoint the Short Stop Gas Station on Baycrest Hill on the Sterling Highway and the Fat Olives Espresso Café on Ohlson Lane. Those charges were later dismissed on a technicality.

Vanbuskirk also tried to escape in January 2016 when troopers went to arrest him on a warrant at an Anchor Point home. Vanbuskirk struggled with a trooper, got away, and then got caught after running about a half mile. Later, after being arrested on the warrant and while being transferred from Homer to Wildwood Pretrial Facility in Kenai, Vanbuskirk attempted to escape from a prisoner van in Kasilof after asking to be let out because he had to throw up. Vanbuskirk ran away, but stopped when the jail officer said, “Don’t make me shoot you.”

After the standoff and Vanbuskirk’s arrest, troopers took him to Wildwood. On Wednesday morning he was arraigned on the ATV theft charges and in the afternoon he had a court hearing on the December 2016 burglary charges.

Reach Michael Armstrong at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

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