Man accused of spraying group with bear spray has long criminal history

Bret Maness, seen here in his court appearance during a 1997 murder trial (left), a 2003...
Bret Maness, seen here in his court appearance during a 1997 murder trial (left), a 2003 weapons and evading trial (center), and a photo issued in 2018 by APD for suspected involvement in a bear spray assault (right, APD photo). (KTUU)
Published: Apr. 26, 2018 at 9:46 AM AKDT
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A group meeting at the Church of Love in Spenard was met with a shower of bear spray Saturday afternoon, injuring several people. Police took to social media, sharing photos of the bearded man they said was suspected of macing the crowd.

After receiving "hundreds of tips from the public," police identified and arrested Bret Maness, 53. A better photo of his face was shared Thursday following the successful identification, and hours later,

. APD called Maness "possibly armed and dangerous" prior to his capture.

But who is Bret Maness, and why did authorities believe he was dangerous? Besides the bear spray, Maness has had several run-ins with the law that involved firearms-- including one that ended with one man being shot and killed.

MJ Thim, spokesperson for APD, said that the alert calling Maness possibly dangerous was due to the discharge of mace as a violent assault, as well as "based on our past history with him."

He was jailed in Alaska in the past, being convicted in 2003 to serve 10 years after he led troopers on a high speed chase in his RV and aimed loaded guns at them.

That case began in 2001, with Alaska State Troopers arriving at Maness' home, attempting to commit him to the Alaska Psychiatric Institute for treatment based on a court order. Instead of going with the officers, he took off in his RV, leading Troopers on a six-hour chase.

The incident was resolved when a spike strip punctured one of the RV's tires, and Maness fled on foot, armed with an assault rifle and a hand gun. He was eventually surrounded by officers, but continued threatening them with his weapons. He was eventually arrested after one officer shot Maness in the shoulder.

In 1997, Maness was charged with murder, though not convicted. The case centered on the killing of Maness' neighbor, Delbert White, in the driveway of his Spenard-area apartment. Maness was acquitted of that crime in trial.

Maness reportedly began that altercation with White, by shooting BB pellets at his apartment building. When White came out to complain, Maness reportedly met him in the driveway holding an assault rifle, which he reportedly used to shoot White in the hand and in the back of the neck, killing him.

Prosecutors called the crime "racially motivated," citing witnesses that testified hearing Maness say, "I told you I'd kill you, you f--- n---." Additionally, white supremacist literature, written by Maness, was found in his home, referencing the killing of black and Jewish people.

The defense argued that the crime was in self defense, stating White "banged on the front door" and that the following "struggle" between the two men "was a nightmare, it was chaotic, it was terrifying."

Now, Maness faces charges of assault, burglary, and terrorist threatening for his alleged part in spraying the group on April 21. It is not yet clear why Maness chose to target that group.

According to Thim, the FBI had originally expressed interest in the case, and Maness was taken to the FBI office in Anchorage. However, in the end, they did not pursue the investigation.

Channel 2's Cameron Mackintosh contributed to this report.