Gone to pot: Man on loose after Bethel bud shop robbed at gunpoint, shots fired, employee injured

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Late Monday night, a man wearing a “Res Alaska” logo jacket entered the Alaska Buds store on Third Avenue in Bethel, carrying a duffle bag and an M16-style rifle, police said on Tuesday.

The man appeared to be uncoordinated in his movements and was possibly intoxicated. He placed the duffle bag on the counter in what appeared to be an attempt to rob the establishment, and then fired several shots, with the first few hitting the floor of the store. The man jumped over a display counter and took approximately $300 in merchandise and fled the store in an unknown direction. One employee was shot and taken to the hospital, and the alleged robber is still at large.

Bethel Police Department is actively investigating the incident and those who have helpful information regarding this incident can report it to the police at 907-543-3781. This is possibly the first armed robbery of a marijuana store in Alaska that involved an injury, although robberies and thefts at marijuana stores are on the rise, according to several sources.

Some members of the Bethel community were upset that it took so long for the police to issue a press release or a warning that there was an armed and dangerous man on the loose.

Alaska Buds was the first marijuana store in Bethel, opening in January of 2020. Its founder is Nick Miller, who chairs the Alaska Marijuana Control Board. In February of 2020, Kusko Kush opened its doors for business across the street. The city has 6,325 residents and is a commercial hub for the region.

The last major robbery in Bethel was Nov. 11, 2021, when the Alaska USA Federal Credit Union branch inside the Alaska Commercial Company store. Ezekiel Thomas, age 34, was arrested about an hour later in that incident, which did not involve a weapon.

Cannabis Business Times: 3 steps to help you survive an armed robbery

12 COMMENTS

  1. There should be a law against robbing pot shops with an ar rifle while intoxicated, carrying a duffle and wearing a res Alaska jacket. Maybe just ban duffles too. Well, it would make me feel better!

  2. Pharmakia, binding others with a spell – druggery is never well intended. Be alert always. You couldn’t pay me to creosote my brains.

  3. A ridiculous yet serious crime, one that should be quickly resolved with an arrest. The indictment, trial, and sentencing of the accused criminal, however, will be dragged out for more than one year following an arrest. This drawn out process, we prospective victims are glibly assured, is the best that Alaska’s system of criminal justice can accomplish.

    Back in the late 1980s, I think it was, some doofus fellow walked into a branch bank lobby on W. Northern Lights Blvd, handed the teller some sort of robbery note, and walked out with a handful of cash. He hustled across REI’s parking lot, crossed Spenard Road, and settled in at a bar (still there) to have a celebratory drink. The police had no trouble finding him at the bar.

    I remember commenting to my spouse that this bank robbery would cost us Alaskans about $1,000,000 to prosecute (include the public defender!), adjudicate (jury trial!), and sentence this bonehead criminal to twenty years imprisonment. The far less costly and far more effective punishment, since no weapon was involved, would be to strip the convicted offender and to thoroughly lash his back, as is done in Malaysia. But, no, no, his sentence was three hots and a cot for maybe twenty years. $1,000,000 – the cost to educate more than 5,000 children for one year.

    • Hahaha. No.

      First off.

      Unless the case receives attention during the judicial process, there will be or was a negotiating process. If it went Federal (NOT guaranteed) a plea agreement of less than ten years was certainly arranged. If it went state, a plea of five or six was probably arranged, unless he was a “worst” offender.

      Follow Courtview on folks you’ve seen in the news or in the DPS Dispatches. You’ll usually see that the offenders of most notriety have benefitted often and generously from plea agreements.

      Second.

      Law enforcement is not a for-profit business. Frankly, if punishment was truly “correctional” and actually motivated criminally minded people to behave more socially acceptable, it’s money well invested in a civil society.

      However, our judicial system and our District Attorneys would prefer to not burden themselves with trials and the corrections industry neither corrects or punishes.

  4. Hahaha. No.

    First off.

    Unless the case receives attention during the judicial process, there will be or was a negotiating process. If it went Federal (NOT guaranteed) a plea agreement of less than ten years was certainly arranged. If it went state, a plea of five or six was probably arranged, unless he was a “worst” offender.

    Follow Courtview on folks you’ve seen in the news or in the DPS Dispatches. You’ll usually see that the offenders of most notriety have benefitted often and generously from plea agreements.

    Second.

    Law enforcement is not a for-profit business. Frankly, if punishment was truly “correctional” and actually motivated criminally minded people to behave more socially acceptable, it’s money well invested in a civil society.

    However, our judicial system and our District Attorneys would prefer to not burden themselves with trials and the corrections industry neither corrects or punishes.

  5. Yeah, they deal with cash. Can’t use federal banking systems.

    So, if you were a weed store in Fairbanks and your goods are produced in the Valley you drive the cash to the grower and drive the product back to your store in Fairbanks.

    Pretty sure most of them avoid that risk and grow locally. Driving through a Fed jurisdiction would be incredibly “unsettling” for them, among other things

  6. Repeal the 17th, ( I am in agreement with that) I’ve seen Pot Shop owners with huge duffle bags going through TSA screening! Turns out Pot cannot be checked as baggage? The fellow took up all of the overhead bins aboard the Alaska 737-700 for several rows.
    Back in my day one would be nervous packing pounds of Pot through security screening, my how the world has changed.

  7. Going through TSA is news to me.

    That used to not occur; Federal rules and laws apply on a scheduled commercial flights.

    I suspect a mostly senile resident of DC passed an order to a few executive agencies instructing them about which laws they were to enforce and which ones not to.

    Legislative branch? Eh, who needs it, right? That silly Constitution is for suckers.

    I don’t care how they packaged it, cultivated weed is one of the most obnoxious stinks in the world. That skunk piss is a close matching odor says alot.

    I’m surprised the flight crew tolerated the stink. They would be well within their rights to have it removed.

    These potshops have enough revenue to occasionally charter a private carrier. Even if it’s a 207 needing one fuel stop between ANC and FAI, certainly doable.

    Little known fact, heroin sales and issues skyrocketed as soon as weed legalized in AK. Turns out most dealers of illegal drugs didn’t turn legit, they stayed in business as drug dealers and happened upon something more profitable.

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