Pregnant mother trapped inside store with 2 children, armed suspect at 5th Ave. Mall

Theresa Lee and her two children found themselves trapped inside the Famous Footwear store, last week with a man with a knife.
Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 7:27 PM AKST|Updated: Feb. 14, 2023 at 10:18 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Theresa Lee’s 31st birthday is one she will most likely never forget.

Lee’s husband, toddler, and 15-year-old son had flown down to Anchorage from Nome to celebrate her birthday. On Thursday, Feb. 9, Lee and her family had gone to Famous Footwear at the 5th Avenue Mall in Downtown Anchorage to do some shoe shopping when her day of celebration took a twist.

Anchorage police say they received a report of an incident at the mall at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 9. According to APD Community Relations Specialist Renee Oistad, 31-year-old David Nagy had walked out of Famous Footwear with unpaid items, then assaulted a security guard before returning back to Famous Footwear.

“Once all other customers and the shoe store staff exited Famous Footwear, the security guards were able to pull down the security gate,” Oistad wrote in an email.

But Lee — who is five-and-a-half months pregnant — her toddler and 15-year-old were still inside the store. Lee said that she and her family huddled in a corner, hiding behind a tall, portable shoe rack, scared.

Lee recounts looking for weapons to protect her children, contemplating how if the man got near them they could use the rack as a shield and throw it on him. Lee said that minutes before the incident, her husband had left to go get cash for the parking meter, leaving Lee and her children alone.

“Another minute goes by, and I am waiting for a worker or somebody, security, somebody to help us but nobody ever showed up,” Lee said.

Lee said she called her husband twice while inside the store. The first time, she let him know they were hiding. Then during the second phone call, Lee let him know that they were still inside. That’s when he explained to her what was going on.

“He said, they just locked the gate, with the man who has the knife,” Lee said. “He immediately told one of the workers you just locked my wife and kids in there with that man.”

Lee recalls how just minutes later, help rushed in and assisted them out the door, barely opening the gate, just giving her enough room to squeeze through with her children.

“Another person shielded the guy with a knife away from us and we had to run past him,” she said.

Lee shared how she didn’t speak to law enforcement or other employees at the mall.

“My son was having a panic attack. Cops showed up with assault rifles. They were talking about macing him. The whole thing was just very chaotic and dangerous. So, we just immediately left,” Lee said.

Lee said that since the incident, she has contacted police to share her statement. On Monday, she called the Anchorage Police Department at 1:35 p.m. According to Lee, she was told that an officer would get back to her after 3 p.m.

However, Lee said she has yet to hear back from the department.

In the meanwhile, on Tuesday, after reaching out to the 5th Avenue Mall, she got a phone call back. According to Lee, the mall apologized to her and said that they are looking into the situation and how to make sure an incident like this doesn’t occur in the future.

Now, Lee is back home with her loved ones in Nome where her family is healing from last week’s traumatic incident as she hopes for more clarification and acknowledgment to come in the near future.