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Story Last modified at 9:58 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Soldier slashed in Eagle River
Early-morning mugging near Lake Street results in minor injuries

Alaska Star

A U.S. Army soldier suffered several gashes on his arm and hand after a stranger with a knife took his wallet and slashed at him on an Eagle River path last week, Anchorage police said.

Jeremy Wayne Cessna, 22, told police the incident occurred around 1 a.m. on March 31. Cessna was walking a path behind his Lake Street residence, en route to the gas stations at the Old Glenn Highway and North Eagle River Loop Road, when a man in his 20s approached and asked if he had any cigarettes.

When Cessna said he didn't smoke, the man brandished a knife and demanded his wallet, according to a report filed by Anchorage police officer Keo Fujimoto.

Cessna reached into his back right pocket, grabbed his wallet and handed it to the man. Then, Cessna later told the officer, he swung at the man with his right arm – partly because he didn't want him to glimpse his wedding ring and ask for that, too.

That's when Cessna's assailant stabbed at him, according to the report.

Cessna held up his left arm to protect himself, then shoved the man, who fell backwards, got up and ran to the east. Cessna, now bleeding from several wounds on his arm, ran in the other direction toward his apartment on Lake Street, just west of the Old Glenn.

Cessna grabbed a towel and headed to the home of his Army team leader, Nathan Palomino, the report said.

"He later told me he went to Nathan's because it was what he was trained to do," Fujimoto wrote. Cessna also said he didn't want to upset his wife, who is pregnant.

Police have made no arrests.

An attack involving an unknown assailant with a weapon is rare in Eagle River. The community has, however, seen a recent spate of violent crimes. In February 2010, a woman with a knife stole $57 from the AppleTree Bookshop; prosecutors said she suffered from alcohol-abuse problems. Then in August, police arrested three men for the murder of Harvey "Charlie" Albright Jr. after the Eagle River 23-year-old was beaten to death, reportedly over a stolen backpack with cash in it.

Cessna came away from last week's attack with a deep, three-inch-long laceration on the outside of his left forearm as well as several small gashes. He also had an inch-long cut on the inside of his right hand. Medics bandaged his arm and he was treated at the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson hospital.

Cessna and Palomino did not respond to requests for comment. A U.S. Army Alaska spokesman said both men serve with the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) at JBER. Cessna is a machine gunner.

Cessna described the suspect as a white, clean-shaven male, about 5-foot-9, wearing a black jacket, black jeans and a black watch cap.

Fujimoto said that before he heard about the attack, he spotted a man at the Tesoro station in Eagle River who matched that description. "He appeared to be blond and when I conversationally asked him if he was waiting to pay for gas, he told me he was buying cigarettes," he wrote in his report.

The officer returned to the Tesoro after the reported attack, he said. Video surveillance showed the man approaching the store from the direction of the attack. Fujimoto said he wasn't able to find the path Cessna described. A police dog didn't find any tracks.

Cessna told police that his wallet contained his driver's license, Army ID, two debit cards, grocery club cards, receipts – and no cash.

This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, April 6, 2011.