BIG LAKE — A bail-jumping burglar may be feeling lucky at the possibility of spending the next several decades in jail after an armed confrontation that nearly left him shot.
Joshua Beaty, 25, was in the process of robbing the Big Lake area home of James Conner Oct. 26 when Conner and a couple of his friends caught Beaty in the act.
“He already had the TV loaded up and some other stuff,” said Jim Bowe Jr., owner of Mark’s Big Lake Repair and friend of Conner. “He came out of the house and tried to sneak into his truck, and Conner grabbed him.”
Beaty managed to get into his vehicle, threw it in reverse and attempted to run Bowe down, Bowe said. That’s when Bowe trained a handgun on Beaty.
“I pulled a gun and almost shot him,” Bowe said, adding that Beaty made a move to retrieve a.44-caliber handgun he had stolen from the home from beside his seat. That’s when Bowe said he fired a warning shot. “I popped one up over his head, then he knew I was for real. If he would’ve got that .44 out of the holster, he would’ve been dead.”
Instead, Beaty bolted out of the vehicle and tried to run away on foot, but was subdued, said Chris Harris. Harris works at Northshore Pawn and Thrift in Big Lake and was the other friend with Conner that day.
“I was with a couple of buddies and we went to pick up a Jet Ski after lake freeze-up,” Harris said. “We were dropping off the trailer at his house and the guy was in the house. … It took us completely by surprise. I handed Jim Bowe my handgun because the guy had just tried to run him over.
Although Harris said he’s a big guy and there were three of them to one burglar, Beaty was difficult to restrain. The men later learned Beaty allegedly has a three-times-a-day heroin habit.
“It took all three of us to hold him down,” Harris said. “We finally got him on his stomach and we zip-tied him up.”
“It took every bit of my strength and Chris’ to hold him down,” Bowe added.
Turns out, Beaty may have believed he had plenty of reason to resist. Alaska court records show that at the time of his capture, he was already wanted for bail jumping a six-year prison sentence for a 2010 first-degree burglary conviction. A laundry list of charges stemming from his Oct. 26 arrest could mean decades more prison time for Beaty if convicted. In addition to the items he stole from Conner’s home, he’s been tied to at least eight other burglaries, Bowe and Harris said troopers told them.
In one of those other burglaries, Beaty allegedly stole the cremated remains of a person and a Pomeranian dog. The dog was later recovered, but had been shaved. In another incident, a woman who was scheduled to have brain surgery was burglarized. Beaty allegedly stole some of her jewelry, an iPad with all her medical information on it and all the woman’s toilet paper.
Harris said he actually met that victim, because she came into his pawn shop about a week before looking for her stolen items.
“She came in and asked us to be on the lookout for her stolen property,” he said. “Then a week or so later, we actually caught the guy.”
The apprehension was satisfying, Harris said, especially because his shop has been the victim of four burglaries and an armed robbery in the not-too-distant past. And while he admits confronting a suspected burglar on heroin with a handgun is far from recommended ideal, Harris and Bowe both said Beaty gave them few options.
“He left us no choice,” Harris said. “When he refused to stand down and tried to run one of us over, we had to subdue him, I thought.”
Bowe said the situation was exciting, and he’s glad Beaty didn’t force him to make a fatal decision.
“I’m glad we caught him, because it really cleaned up a bunch of robberies,” he said. “That was an adrenaline flow like no other. He was so full of heroin, he was chasing the dragon. I’m glad he dropped the gun and saved his own life.”
That the Big Lake men were able to subdue and hold Beaty until law enforcement could arrive helped potentially solve many crimes, Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said, but troopers don’t recommend civilians become involved in armed conflicts with criminal suspects.
“We usually encourage people to contact us and let us handle those situations,” she said. “We don’t want someone shot or injured in another way by confronting somebody. We don’t encourage people to put themselves in harm’s way.”
In addition to the six years Beaty has already been sentenced to for his earlier conviction, he faces at least nine more criminal charges relating to his Oct. 26 arrest, including:
• First-degree burglary of a dwelling.
• First-degree burglary, armed with a firearm.
• Theft of a firearm.
• Second-degree theft value $500 to $24,999
• Three charges of third-degree assault with a weapon causing fear of injury.
• First-degree criminal trespass.
• Possession of a controlled substance.
When troopers searched the rented home Beaty and his girlfriend were living in, they found items from other burglaries, Harris said. They also found some things that weren’t reported stolen, but don’t belong to the home’s owner. Northshore Pawn and Thrift has a list of those items at the store, at the Y in Big Lake. Anyone who may own any of those items is welcome to come to the shop and see the list, Harris said.
Contact reporter Greg Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-2269.