GCI suffers crime-related statewide outages for second time in 2 months

For the second time in as many months, Alaska’s largest communications company suffered statewide outages due to alleged criminal activity.

This time, a man is behind bars for allegedly causing damage to GCI equipment at the Denali Tower building in Midtown Anchorage on Sunday.

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Brodie Eguires-Lee, 24, faces felony charges of criminal mischief, burglary and assault.

According to GCI Director of External Affairs Megan Baldino, the company was able to minimize the impact to customers.

“The individual was able to break in and damage some equipment, which caused an interruption of services,” Baldino said. “GCI teams responded almost immediately, as soon as they could, and were able to restore services by late yesterday afternoon.”

According to the charges, Eguires-Lee broke into the communications room by damaging a security code key pad and jamming a piece of metal into a keyhole. The charges say he came at a GCI employee with a large screwdriver after causing what the company described to police as “millions of dollars” in damage.

Eguires-Lee allegedly told a GCI employee that he is Lucifer and that he was there “to fix the machines,” the charges say.

Eguires-Lee appeared in court Monday and seemed unaware of the seriousness of the charges, which, if he is convicted, carry minimum sentences of several years in prison.

When a judge set his bail at $25,000, Eguires-Lee shook his head in disbelief.

“So what’s going to happen next? Am I going to get out of here today or what?” Eguires-Lee asked.

The judge said, no, there are conditions Eguires-Lee must meet first. Eguires-Lee is set for another hearing and will have to post bail and find a third-party custodian if he is to be released.

Eguires-Lee told the judge that the whole story in the charging document is one-sided, from the police point of view. The judge advised him not to speak in court without a lawyer.

“There’s a lot of stuff in this case that’s missing,” Eguires-Lee said.

Eguires-Lee pleaded not guilty.

Meantime, despite acknowledging that Eguires-Lee was able to gain access to the GCI communications room in a simple, random break-in, the company’s spokeswoman, Megan Baldino, said GCI considers security to be of the utmost concern.

“We place the absolute, highest priority on the reliability of our network, and we had security measures in place at the time of this break-in. And of course with any event like this, we’re going to review and take the appropriate measures as a result.”

GCI has no update on the status of the investigation into another outage that happened in April — also due to alleged criminal activity.

Casey Grove is host of Alaska News Nightly, a general assignment reporter and an editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach him at cgrove@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Casey here

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