By MICHAEL ARMSTRONG
and JERZY SHEDLOCK
A chance encounter at the Anchor Point Grocery Store by an Alaska State Trooper with a suspect wanted for kidnapping, armed assault, robbery and burglary led to the suspect’s arrest last Friday. Troopers took Bret Herrick, 52, into custody after a brief scuffle when Herrick allegedly assaulted troopers and resisted arrest.
In a court hearing Tuesday at the Kenai Courthouse, Herrick pleaded not guilty to multiple charges of kidnapping, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, four counts of third-degree assault and third-degree theft. Herrick had been indicted by a Kenai grand jury in September on those charges. Superior Court Judge Carl Bauman levied a combined bail amount of $150,000, noting the seriousness of Herrick’s offenses as reason for the large payment.
A friend of Herrick’s who declined to give his name inquired how he could find a bail bondsman on the peninsula, but the court offered little advice.
Troopers added new charges of resisting arrest and two counts of fourth-degree assault after Friday’s arrest. Herrick was arraigned in the Homer Court on those charges, all misdemeanors, on Saturday, before being taken up to Wildwood Pretrial Facility in Kenai on Monday.
On Aug. 3, Herrick was alleged to have kidnapped a Homer man at gunpoint from his East Skyline Drive home, taken the man into Herrick’s truck, and driven him to a bank where he forced the man to withdraw money from an ATM. Herrick also allegedly threatened a man and a woman at the house. The alleged victim escaped after distracting Herrick by throwing money at him. Herrick was alleged to have entered the man’s home carrying an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle with a large-capacity drum magazine. Herrick had been on the loose since then.
Troopers said earlier they had to weigh the safety of the public and troopers in trying to make an arrest and had to be cautious when approaching a suspect known to be armed and dangerous.
In Friday’s arrest of Herrick, Trooper Daniel Brom had stopped to get a snack at the grocery store on the Old Sterling Highway — several blocks from the Anchor Point Trooper Post — at about 10:24 p.m. Dec. 7. Brom parked in his marked patrol car next to a 1992 Chevrolet utility truck. Brom noticed a bald man in the passenger seat look over and pull up a collar to hide his face.
“Which isn’t suspicious at all,” said trooper spokesperson Megan Peters, being ironic.
Herrick was known to have a shaved head and reported to be armed and extremely dangerous. In his criminal complaint, Brom wrote that he checked the license of the truck and found it was registered to a man thought to be an acquaintance of Herrick. When the man got out of the truck and went into the liquor store next to the grocery store in the same building, Brom identified the man as Herrick.
Brom called for back up, and Sgt. Jeremy Stone, who had been nearby, quickly arrived, Peters said. The troopers approached the front door of the liquor store. Brom said he saw Herrick wearing a bullet proof vest, but that Herrick took the vest off as he came rushing out of the store.
Herrick walked quickly with his fists balled toward the troopers. Both troopers had their guns drawn, but switched to Tasers when they saw Herrick did not hold a weapon, Peters said. Herrick shouted obscenities at the troopers and raised his hands at them. Herrick wouldn’t obey commands to place his hands behind his back, Brom wrote, and tried to pull away when they tried to handcuff him.
When the troopers had Herrick on the ground with his hands beneath him and Brom tried to pull Herrick’s hands out, he said Herrick told him, “You’re going to have to work for them!”
Brom and Stone eventually got Herrick handcuffed. Neither trooper reported being injured in the scuffle, Peters said.
Troopers found a knife, bullets and two handgun magazines on Herrick.
During Tuesday’s arraignment, District Attorney Scot Leaders argued a substantial bail amount was necessary to protect the public. Also, Herrick is a flight risk, Leaders said.
The state noted a prior offense involving a weapon, but said the defendant had no felonies.
Public Defender William Taylor asked the court to set bail at a reasonable amount and argued the added requirement of a third-party custodian should reduce the bail’s amount.
There were three alleged victims of Herrick’s offenses, said Bauman, and a grand jury decided it had heard sufficient evidence to charge him. A larger bail was appropriate, he said.
The court scheduled an omnibus hearing for Jan. 25 at the Kenai Courthouse. Herrick’s trial was scheduled for the week of Feb. 25 in Homer.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at email@example.com.