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Crime & Courts

Anchorage police catch suspect who they say fled after ramming SUV through garage wall

Anchorage police on Tuesday said they arrested a 29-year-old man who had escaped officers Monday afternoon by crashing an SUV through a garage wall as officers attempted to break through the windows of his car.

Russell Hamlen (Photo provided by APD)

The arrest of Russell Hamlen, 29, came shortly after police Tuesday morning had issued a public alert seeking tips about his location.

During Hamlen's escape Monday, one officer suffered cuts to his hand, a minor injury, while trying to break a window, police said.

Shortly before 4 p.m. Monday, officers responded to a report of a suspicious man pulling an unfamiliar vehicle into the garage of a home near Valley of the Moon Park.

Police contacted the homeowner in the 800 block of West 21st Avenue, who said a stranger was changing a tire in the garage.

"We do not know how Hamlen got into the garage," Anchorage police  spokeswoman Renee Oistad said in an email Tuesday. "The homeowner clearly knew that Hamlen was there but denied knowing who Hamlen was."

With the homeowner's permission, officers entered the garage through the main door. Hamlen wouldn't leave the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but officers confirmed his identity. His warrants included violating probation for a theft charge, and not appearing at a pre-indictment hearing for a failure-to-stop charge.

"When Hamlen was told he was going to be arrested on his warrants, Hamlen turned the vehicle on, put it in reverse, and backed into the closed overhead garage door," police said.

Officers were breaking the Jeep's windows when Hamlen put the car in drive and slammed through the wall, police said.

As Hamlen sped off, officers pursued him. But they stopped when he ran a nearby red light.

One officer cut his hand when he was breaking a window, but was treated at a hospital and released.

Police said there were no other injuries.

After receiving information about Hamlen's location, police arrested him after 10 a.m. Tuesday, at a residence in the 5300 block of Mockingbird Drive, north of Dowling Road and the Seward Highway.

Hamlen now faces new charges after eluding police, including third-degree assault, reckless driving and resisting arrest.

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