ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The search for a kidnapping suspect that halted traffic along Alaska’s busy Seward Highway for hours Friday was suspended with the armed man still at large, authorities said.
Anchorage police and Alaska State Troopers closed the highway connecting the city and the Kenai Peninsula around noon after a man reported he had been forced at gunpoint to drive the suspect 58 miles out of the city.
The victim escaped when they stopped at a rest stop, authorities said. The suspect took the car keys with him into a restroom but the victim had a spare and drove off, stranding the man in a scenic mountain pass on the northern Kenai Peninsula miles from homes or businesses.
The search, however, failed to turn up the suspect, and troopers warned motorists not to pick up hitchhikers.
Police Lt. Dave Parker said the victim did not know the suspect.
“The victim told troopers that he found the suspect rummaging around in his grandmother’s backyard,” Parker said. “He confronted him and that was when he produced a gun and ordered him into his vehicle, and they drove away.”
Investigators are not sure of the motive or the ultimate destination.
“The male told him to head toward Girdwood, and they kept going,” Parker said. Girdwood is 37 miles south of downtown Anchorage.
The vehicle continued past Portage and reached the northern Kenai Peninsula, a popular destination for residents on weekends and tourists during the week. The peninsula is surging with visitors because of a strong sockeye salmon run on the Kenai River and other streams.
The highway climbs steeply for several miles to Turnagain Pass, where there’s a rest area between peaks. The suspect told the victim to turn in so he could use the restroom, Parker said.
“The fellow had to relieve himself and made the mistake of getting out of the car with the keys, but the victim had a spare key,” Parker said.
The victim drove off and reported the incident.
Troopers halted traffic between Miles 69.5 and 73.
The suspect was described as white, about 40 years old and about 6 feet tall with a shaved head. He wore a black tank top and black pants and he carried a blue and white wind breaker, according to police. The suspect had a black and red tattoo on his left shoulder.
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