The man who won the state's first half-million dollar lottery was attacked on a downtown street this afternoon with a tire iron or metal pipe, according to Anchorage police.
Police say Alec Ahsoak, 53, was attackedat about 3:30 p.m. when a man, accompanied by two women, approached him to ask if he was the man who won the $500,000 jackpot.
Whether the attack was motivated by Ahsoak's winning the lottery or the widely distributed reports that Ahsoak is a three-time convicted sex offender is not known.
"There was no apparent attempt at robbery," police Lt. Dave Parker said. "He was struck eight to 10 times, and then he threw his Pepsi at the assailant and he ran for Phyllis' Cafe and the assailant ran off."
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By Tuesday evening, Ashoak had been discharged from the hospital and police had taken a man and one woman into custody, Parker said. The man was being questioned by police and had not yet been charged with a crime, he said.
Ahsoak told officers he had been stopped by a white man believed to be about 21 and wearing a blue-and-white checked shirt, blue jeans and a white baseball cap as he entered the 5th Avenue Mall. The stranger asked if he was the lottery winner, and Ahsoak said he was, then went into the mall.
When he walked out minutes later carrying a Pepsi, the man approached him and began hitting him on the head with the weapon, police said.
"Oh my God, I was so afraid something was going to happen to him," said Nancy Haag, executive director of Standing Together Against Rape, the nonprofit that benefited from the lottery. "I'm just very sorry to hear that this has happened. ... Nobody deserves to be a victim of any kind of violence, and that's our stand."
Ahsoak was transported to a local hospital to be treated for his injuries, which did not appear to be life-threatening, police said.
"There were injuries to his head -- lacerations, that kind of stuff," Parker said. "Nobody knows how bad it is until doctors do their job, but he was talking and able to communicate with the officers."
There were "loads of witnesses" to the attack, but none of them was immediately able to identify the man, Parker said. It did not immediately appear that the attack had been caught on any surveillance cameras, he said.
Ahsoak claimed $350,000 in prize money after taxes, and, the day he came forward, pledged to give $100,000 of it to STAR, the owner of Lucky Times, Abe Spicola, has said. Spicola did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday.
The lottery, billed as the first of its kind, was conducted under Alaska law that allows games of chance that benefit a charity. The charity must get at least 10 percent of what's left after the prize is paid out, and organizers have estimated STAR stands to get between $2,000 and $20,000.
Ahsoak came forward as the lottery winner Saturday, and reports that he is a convicted sex offender were soon publicized by KTUU Channel 2 News and picked up by other outlets, including the Anchorage Daily News. By Monday, Ahsoak's victims were telling the media they thought Ahsoak should not benefit from the lottery, which was conducted by Lucky Times Pull Tabs to benefit the nonprofit Standing Together Against Rape.
Asked whether the media should have publicized that Ahsoak was a convicted sex offender, Haag said, "I think it put him, obviously, at greater risk because there are people who like to take justice into their own hands."
Ahsoak was convicted in 1993 of molesting two girls under the age of 13. He was sentenced to four years in prison, according to court records.
In March 2000, police arrested him again for molesting a different young girl he was baby-sitting. Through a plea bargain, Ahsoak was sentenced to six years in prison on a single count of sexual abuse of a minor. Prosecutors in that case dropped another sex abuse charge, and a charge of failing to register as a sex offender.
Ashoak has finished his time in prison and is now on probation, but he is registered as a sex offender on a state-run public database. He told KTUU on Saturday that he's worked hard to turn his life around and has been in treatment for the past year.
A message left on the cell phone of Ahsoak's attorney was not returned Tuesday.
In reports that began surfacing Monday, some of Ahsoak's victims and their parents expressed an interest in suing him since he won the lottery, saying the money should go to his victims instead of benefitting a convicted sex offender.
One victim, who was molested in the early 1990s while Ahsoak, a family friend, was staying at her home, said Tuesday she thinks Ahsoak should not have gotten the money, especially since the money benefits STAR. But it was out of her hands and she doesn't think she'll sue, said the woman.
"I'm in shock that happened. That's terrible," she said upon hearing of the attack. "I don't wish that on anybody. The only thing I wished for him is that he would get better. ... I just think it's crazy the way that everything happened."