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Hotel manager shoots armed robber

Was published as:
Shooting rattles motel manager
SPENARD: 'He was going to kill me,' so counterman fired first

By Elizabeth Manning

(Published February 2, 2001 at Anchorage Daily News,


John Yun's head hurts, and he has trouble sleeping.

But he's alive.

Yun, a 36-year-old motel manager, said he can't stop thinking about the man he shot early Tuesday morning from behind the counter in the Spenard Motel on Spenard Road. He thinks about what happened over and over, worries whether the police will catch other robbery suspects he didn't shoot, and tries to talk about it.

Yun, the motel's manager and the lone clerk early Tuesday, remembers it like this: A young man wearing a mask rushed into the office about 3:30 a.m. waving a gun. He pointed it at Yun and demanded the money from the cash register.

"He said give me all the money," Yun said, fighting back tears. "He threw a gym bag down on the counter and said he wanted the whole thing."

Yun said it was the third robbery at the motel since Jan. 1, so he and other staff members have been on alert.

Yun said he usually locks the door between 2 and 6 a.m. but had just checked a guest in, so the door was open. He said he didn't see any cars parked out front, so he thinks the man may have come from the alley.

He said he gave the man the whole cash drawer, as asked. But as soon as the robber realized how little cash was in the drawer, he grew agitated, Yun said, and pointed the gun at Yun's head.

"He said he was going to kill me," Yun said. "And I thought to myself, 'I'm going to have to do something.' "

So he did. He said he pulled a .38-caliber handgun from his vest pocket and shot the man at least twice. The robbery suspect fell to the ground, and Yun tried to call 911. He was fumbling with the telephone, trying to dial, he said, when he noticed the man moving again. He said he thinks the man was reaching for his gun and was still talking about killing him.

Yun pointed his gun down toward the floor and fired more shots, this time not looking at the man as he pulled the trigger. Then he moved to another phone in the office away from the motel's front desk and dialed 911 again. Police and an ambulance arrived a few minutes later.

The man was shot a total of five times, police said.

Police said Yun will not be charged since he acted in self-defense and has a permit to carry a concealed weapon, according to police spokesman Ron McGee.

Police haven't named the 19-year-old robbery suspect because he has not yet been charged with a crime. McGee said police will make that decision when he is released from Alaska Native Medical Center, where he is recovering from gunshot wounds to an arm, a leg and his face.

Charmaine Ramos, the hospital's spokeswoman, said he was alive but would not release details about the patient's condition at the request of the family.

McGee said, "He was pretty messed up. He got shot real good."

Yun said the robber appeared to be alone Tuesday morning. He wasn't at the motel during the other two robberies, but he said both of those times the robbers worked with at least one other person. And each time they wore some kind of bandanna or mask and used a similar gym bag for the money. He thinks they were all working together. That's what frightens him. He wants the other robbery suspects caught.

He also said he had been trying to get an alarm system installed at the motel office and finally got one put in Wednesday.

"I've never shot anyone. I'm still shaken about it. I thought I was going to die," Yun said. "If anyone knows anything about this, it would be really helpful.

"All he had to do was take the money and run."

Reporter Peter Porco contributed to this story. Elizabeth Manning can be reached at or at 257-4323.

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