'Dealt with' him : Murder suspect had previous run-ins with the law

Posted: Sunday, August 08, 2010

In March of 2009, Lyle D. Ludvick was arrested for allegedly pulling a gun on his son while yelling, "I am going to blow your head off."

In October of 2009, Ludvick was arrested for seemingly trying to pull a gun on a Soldotna police officer.

Both cases were eventually dismissed.

In July of 2010, Ludvick, 44, was charged with the murder of 22-year-old Brendan McGee. The case is ongoing.

Police say Ludvick's previous arrests put him on their radar, but that only goes so far.

"I wasn't surprised," Soldotna Police Department Chief John Lucking said of hearing about Ludvick's most recent arrest. "He's somebody that we have dealt with."

That includes Oct. 3, 2009.

Soldotna police officer Rory Espy was at the station completing routine paperwork when he got the call at around 3:30 p.m., he remembers. Espy went to check out a fight at the Soldotna Church of God.

On the way there, dispatch let Espy know that the people fighting had left the church in a red pickup and a white Buick, according to Espy's report.

Espy found the Buick on Redoubt Avenue and pulled it over. Lyle Ludvick sat behind the wheel.

Espy remembers Ludvick wearing a black leather jacket. His report notes Ludvick's cut lip. A passenger in the back seat wore a half-torn shirt. Tears streamed down the face of a woman sitting in the front passenger seat.

Espy asked Ludvick to climb out of the car. As Ludvick did so, Espy asked him if he had any weapons. Ludvick said he didn't have any.

"He made me nervous," Espy remembers. "He was giving me some body language consistent with pre-assault indicators. He was looking at my weapon and watching my hands and looking away for a path to escape like he was contemplating fight or flight."

When Ludvick stepped out of the Buick, he began walking toward the officer, Espy remembers. Then Ludvick reached toward his waistband.

"I ordered him to keep his hands out of his pockets, and he reached for the same spot again," Espy said. "It was obvious that he had something that he wanted to touch there."

Espy once again asked Ludvick if he had any weapons.

"Oh, no. I got a piece on me," Ludvick said, according to Espy's report.

In a matter of seconds, both the officer and Ludvick reached for Ludvick's waistband, according to the report.

"I felt that he was trying to reach for something and that he was planning to take it out," Espy recalled.

Ludvick never drew the weapon. He quit resisting and Espy handcuffed him. That's when the officer found a .45 caliber pistol in Ludvick's holster as well as a small folding knife, according to Espy's report.

While Espy frisked Ludvick, the officer spotted the back seat passenger reaching toward the floor of the car. When the passenger didn't follow orders to put his hands over his head, Espy drew his Glock 22, according to his report.

The rear passenger gave Espy two middle fingers before putting his hands up, according to Espy's report. Backup arrived shortly, and Espy returned his attention to Ludvick, who had been ordered to the ground while Espy dealt with the other passenger.

Espy said in his two-plus years with SPD, he's only had to pull a weapon on someone a handful of times.

"It was an extremely stressful event for me," Espy recalled. "He was reaching into a space that I can't see."

Then Espy took Ludvick into his squad car for an interview.

During the talk, Ludvick said, "I wasn't even attempting to reach for my handgun. I wasn't at all," according to Espy's report. Ludvick said he was just trying to grab his coat to show the officer the gun. The two discussed details of the alleged church fight. Ludvick claimed he was trying to escort a drunken man away from his family.

Ludvick was arrested for concealing a weapon and acting like he might draw it on a police officer. The case was eventually dismissed.

Espy remembers Ludvick being fairly subdued during their dialogue.

"He was actually pretty calm and collected, pretty nonchalant," Espy said.

Ludvick did not return a message this week left for him at Wildwood Correctional Complex, where he is being held without bail for alleged second-degree murder. Ludvick's family did not respond to a handwritten note left at Ludvick's house in Sterling. Bill Taylor, a public defender who represented Ludvick in 2009, said he is "not allowed to comment."

Chief Lucking said anytime someone pulls a gun on an officer, the name isn't forgotten. But that doesn't mean cops become vigilantes.

"We don't have a right to intrusion or to keep an eye on a person by looking in on them if we don't have a reason," Lucking said.

When someone assaults a police officer, a flag goes on that person's record, marking that the individual has been hostile in the past.

In March of 2009, about seven months before Ludvick's run-in with Espy, Ludvick had a separate incident involving law enforcement.

Shane Ludvick, Ludvick's son, was outside the house, his shirt half torn and red marks visible on his neck, when Alaska State Trooper Larry Duran responded to a domestic disturbance call at the Ludvick's residence on March 14, 2009.

Shane told Duran that a verbal argument turned physical.

The recalling of the fight was typical, each side telling police that the other instigated everything.

He said he was going to "hurt me really bad," Shane told Duran.

He "started pounding on me again," Ludvick said, according to the police report.

Shane claimed Ludvick continually threatened: "I am going to blow your head off," according to the report.

Ludvick said he took out his .45 caliber pistol "more as a threat to say 'get out of here,'" according to Duran's report.

Ludvick was arrested on a number of assault charges, including allegedly hitting Shane in the head with a pistol and threatening to shoot Shane with the pistol. But, like the Soldotna police officer case, this one, too, was dismissed.

In the 1980s, Ludvick amassed a number of criminal cases against him, ranging from driving with a suspended license to driving under the influence to assaulting his wife. All are closed.

Now, there's only one open case against Ludvick, but it's the most serious charge he's faced.

Last month, a witness picked Ludvick out of a photo lineup, claiming he's the man who shot McGee in the face, killing him inside a known drug den. The witness, Thomas Mason, told police that the whole thing started with an argument over a $500 gun purchase.

Ludvick is scheduled for a preliminary court hearing on Aug. 10.

Andrew Waite can be reached at andrew.waite@peninsulaclarion.com

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