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An 88-year-old man fought A young man at an Anchorage complex for the elderly

Stanley Sienda, 88, had just returned from his usual running routine one late April afternoon when he heard someone knocking on the door of his apartment in Chugach View, a public housing complex for the elderly in Fairview.

“I open the door,” Sienda said. “And someone grabbed me and bit me in the neck.”

He found himself fighting on the ground with a stranger, a much younger man who was biting him and kicking him with heavy shoes.

“I knew this person was really dangerous,” Sienda said this week, an elderly man in a sweatshirt and tracksuit pants from Alaska Brewing Co. “I could feel his teeth in my eyebrow, my head, everything.”

After what seemed like a long time to Sienda, he was able to free himself from the aggressor and climb the aisle.

When police arrested Justin Koonuk, 24, he had assaulted four different people in the apartments of the elderly. Sienda was the last.

Koonuk is now charged with assault in the case. He also has a charge of assault open since March, stemming from an incident in which a police officer saw him punch a man in the face on a sidewalk in Midtown.

The April assault charge document says Koonuk went to Chugach View apartments to drink in a resident’s room. At some point, this went wrong and Koonuk allegedly grabbed a stick from his host and assaulted her with him, along with another man in the apartment. They were able to push him down the hall, but Koonuk continued to weep through the building, knocking on another man who opened his door before going up and knocking on the Sienda door.

 

Sienda was the worst injured: he has broken ribs and deep bruises, and weeks later he has lacerations to his head and neck. Because the bites broke the skin, you will need to be tested for blood-borne diseases. Photos taken in his apartment after the attack show streaks of blood and even a folded frying pan in the fight.

Born in Connecticut, Sienda traveled all over the country working on boats in Louisiana and as a machinist before driving a van to Alaska more than 20 years ago to settle. By the time he turned 80, he was still making annual summer trips in his backpack through Europe using a Eurorail pass. He says he runs every day along Chester Creek Road, sometimes to Lake Otis. But does a stranger break into his own apartment?

“I’m not a scary guy,” he said. “But I knew he was trying to kill me.”

The commotion has left former residents of one of Anchorage’s largest public housing facilities. Another resident filed a petition with management to worry about security, and so far 50 or 60 people have signed up, residents say.

Mary Wolcoff is a receptionist at the Anchorage Senior Center, an independent day center where many residents of Chugach View and Chugach Manor spend time. She describes herself as a longtime friend and advocate of Sienda.

Wolcoff says security is not good enough at Chugach View. Although residents have key card access and the doors close automatically, there are too many entrances and ample opportunities for people to go unnoticed behind residents.

“There are four or five young men who go in there and smoke marijuana in the laundry room,” Wolcoff said. “Neighbors dare to confront it. And you know, residents are too scared to deal with it. ” the laundry).

Sienda said someone ripped a phone off the wall and ripped a coin machine. In the mornings, he found groups of people sleeping at the entrance of the building. Problems seem to have accumulated over the past two years, when Sullivan Arena became a haven of mass attention.

The apartments are owned and operated by Alaska Housing Finance Corp., a pseudo-government agency that uses federal HUD funding.

Cathy Stone, director of public housing at Alaska Housing Finance Corp., says Chugach View is safe. The man who assaulted four elderly people was invited to the building, he said, did not sneak in.

“We don’t really force what guests (residents) may or may not have. That’s their choice,” he said. “We don’t control it. But we warn people that they could endanger their homes.”

Elderly people with low incomes pay 28% of their income for a one-bedroom apartment in Chugach View or Chugach Manor. The waiting list is great: about 827 people are waiting for a place.

The apartments have full-time property managers, maintenance staff and a person whose only job is to deal with residents’ concerns, he said.

“Safety and security are paramount for us, for all of our residents,” he said. “And yes, we take it seriously. We respond quickly and address these concerns. And that will be managed.”

In 2007, residents and police raised concerns about drug trafficking, theft, harassment, weapons and even sexual assault on apartments, according to the Daily News at the time.

“I don’t usually get out of my apartment unless we have bingo,” a resident told the newspaper.

At the time, it was attributed to a decrease in the number of elderly people allowed to live in flats. Today, the average age is 68 years.

Wolcott, the receptionist friend of Sienda, said the increase in criminal activity around public housing is worrying for vulnerable people living there. She sees groups of much younger men who spend time in the areas as culprits. “I would like them to look at their grandparents and say,‘ I wouldn’t want to do this to my grandparents, ’” he said.

 

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