Police evacuated several families from their homes and shut down the Alaska Highway after an Anchorage man entered Canada illegally Tuesday.
Jason William Echeverri, 29, was refused entry into Canada at the Beaver Creek crossing. He was known to police. Echeverri was arrested in Anchorage in 2010 for shoplifting.
He was turned back to the United States side where he spent some time with the United States border officials. There, he “ran into some issues,” said Cpl. Shawn Pollard with the Whitehorse RCMP. He was arrested by the United States authorities.
“And next thing you knew, he was driving back towards Canada, and this time drove past the border without stopping,” said Pollard.
Members of the Haines Junction RCMP detachment were called. Police used aircraft, an emergency response team and a police dog to help locate Echeverri.
They put a spike belt out. Even after driving over the belt and flattening his tires, Echeverri continued to drive on the rims. He then fled into the bush.
Echeverri stopped for gas at Talbot Arm Motel in Destruction Bay. He was “very polite, not in a rush,” said Garry Van Der Veen, who sold him $40 of pre-paid premium gas.
“I said, ‘Do you want premium?’ He said, ‘Yes. Number Three.’”
Echeverri’s many tattoos on his forearms, shoulders and neck were the only noticeable clues something may be different about him, said Van Der Veen.
The police closed the Alaska Highway between Burwash Landing and Haines Junction for almost two hours Tuesday evening. Families were evacuated for safety.
Brenda Guthrie was travelling from her home in Destruction Bay to Silver City with her family on Tuesday afternoon when RCMP stopped them to see if anyone was with them in their car. When she saw the officers’ high-powered rifles, she realized this wasn’t a normal stop, said Guthrie.
“It was a little spooky,” the mother of two said. Both children were with her and her husband in the car. While she was a little nervous, the event was not too exciting, she said.
The family returned home without incident, just before the Alaska Highway was closed at around 6:45 p.m. It was reopened at around 9:30 p.m.
A police dog tracked Echeverri to a cabin in the bush that he broke into, said Pollard. He was arrested without incident.