Srebnik headed to trial on hijacking charges
ALPENA — A tow truck driver on Monday said he feared for his life when three armed people he knew demanded a ride at gunpoint last month in Alpena Township.
One of those people, Brad Srebnik, will face trial on charges of unlawful imprisonment, possession of a firearm by a felon, and using a firearm during the commission of a felony after Judge Ed Black said Alpena County Prosecutor Cynthia Muszynski provided enough evidence during Monday’s preliminary examination for the case to move forward.
Srebnik has pleaded not guilty.
Tow truck driver Greg Schuelke testified Monday that two others, Joshua Wirgau and Abby Hill, joined Srebnik in the alleged hijacking.
Hill was wanted on charges related to the alleged hijacking until police on Oct. 15 found her dead in Alpena Township. Hill was Facebook friends with Alpena teen Brynn Bills, whom police on Sept. 28 found dead in Wirgau’s backyard.
Wirgau also faces charges related to the alleged hijacking, but his preliminary exam was delayed last week so he could discuss new information with his attorney.
Police have not publicly named any suspects in the women’s deaths.
Schuelke on Monday told the court that Wirgau — who worked in the repair shop of the towing company where Schuelke worked — called late on Sept. 21 and asked for a ride.
Assuming Wirgau wanted a lift to pick up his truck from the towing company’s lot, Schuelke was surprised when, upon his arrival at Wirgau’s home on Naylor Road at about midnight, Wirgau jumped in the tow truck’s cab with a gun, Schuelke told the court.
At the same time, Srebnik and Hill leaped onto the bed of the tow truck, each holding an assault-style rifle, Schuelke said.
In the glow of the tow truck’s lights, the driver immediately recognized Srebnik, whom he knew from working together about a decade ago. He didn’t recognize Hill, whom he had met in high school, until he dropped the threesome off, he said.
In addition to the guns, the two carried a big black bag onto the tow truck, Schuelke said.
Neither Schuelke’s attorney nor the prosecutor asked Schuelke about the bag during his testimony.
Wirgau allegedly pointed a handgun at Schuelke for a few seconds, demanded he drive to the intersection of Lacomb and Haken roads — about a five-minute drive– and then laid the gun on his lap, the driver testified.
Wirgau appeared skittish and paranoid and started sobbing during the drive, Schuelke said.
Hill and Srebnik lay down on the tow truck bed during the drive, then all three jumped to the ground when the truck stopped. Wirgau handed Schuelke a baggie the driver said contained cocaine before he left the cab, Schuelke said.
Srebnik then handed the driver a $100 bill through the passenger-side window, told Schuelke to tell a female acquaintance he loved her, and demanded the driver leave.
According to Schuelke, he tossed the cocaine out the window on the drive home.
Wirgau did not show up to work the next day, Schuelke said.
Schuelke said he deleted Wirgau’s phone call asking for a ride from his phone and delayed reporting the alleged hijacking because he feared repercussions from Wirgau and Srebnik.
Under questioning from defense attorney Mike Vogler, Schuelke said he would have given the three the ride they wanted without guns or threats.
Black, Alpena’s Circuit Court judge, presided over Monday’s District Court hearing in the absence of retiring District Judge Thomas LaCross.
Black will continue presiding over Srebnik’s case in Circuit Court unless it becomes a bench trial, in which a judge takes the place of a jury to decide guilt or innocence.
Srebnik and Wirgau remain held in local county jails on $500,000 bonds.