Pregnant woman spends birthday with her kids trapped in mall with knife-wielding suspect

Theresa Lee and her two children found themselves trapped inside the Famous Footwear store last week with a man with a knife. (Source: KTUU)
Published: Feb. 15, 2023 at 6:56 PM EST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU/Gray News) - A woman in Alaska spent her 31st birthday in a way she most likely will never forget.

Theresa Lee’s family, which included her husband, toddler and 14-year-old son, had flown down to Anchorage from Nome to celebrate her birthday.

On Feb. 9, Lee and her family went to Famous Footwear at the 5th Avenue Mall in downtown Anchorage to shop for some shoes when her day of celebration took a twist.

KTUU reports police responded to an incident at the mall around 5:30 p.m. that day.

According to Renee Oistad, with the Anchorage Police Department, 31-year-old David Nagy walked out of Famous Footwear with unpaid items. Oistad said he then assaulted a security guard before returning back to the shoe store.

“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.

However, Lee, who is more than five months pregnant, said she was still inside the store with her toddler and 15-year-old son. She told KTUU that she huddled in a corner of the store with her family and hid behind a tall, portable shoe rack.

Lee said she looked for weapons to protect her children, considering a shoe rack she could throw at the suspect if he got near them.

Minutes before the events took place, Lee said her husband had left to go get cash for the parking meter, leaving her alone with her children.

“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. During the second phone call, Lee told him they were still inside with her husband explaining what was going on outside of the store.

“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 said she and her kids were helped out the door a few minutes later. She said she had to squeeze through the gate, which was opened just enough to give her room to escape with her children.

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

Lee said 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. 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. According to Lee, she was told that an officer would get back. However, Lee said she has yet to hear back from the department.

After reaching out to the 5th Avenue Mall, Lee said she got a phone call back Tuesday. 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 safe back at home with her loved ones and reportedly healing from the traumatic incident.