Kotzebue standoff continues after trooper shot www.privateofficer.com
Kotzebue AK June 18 2012 An Alaska State Trooper was shot Sunday morning in Kotzebue and evacuated to Anchorage, where he is stable condition and is expected to recover fully, a trooper spokeswoman said.
A second trooper who responded to the scene — involving reports of a man in a pickup truck brandishing a gun — was also injured, but it’s not clear if that trooper was shot or hurt by shrapnel, trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said.
The standoff between the shooter, troopers and Kotzebue police was on-going as of late afternoon, according to troopers and witnesses. The incident was unfolding on Ted Stevens Way just east of town between what locals call first bridge and second bridge.
Dispatchers got a call after 9 a.m. about a vehicle that had struck the guard rail on Ted Stevens Way. A citizen said the driver had brandished a weapon, Ipsen said. At 9:15 a.m., Kotzebue police asked troopers for help with the situation.
Troopers began to approach toward the suspect, who was in a white pickup truck, said Joe Evans, Kotzebue city attorney, who witnessed much of the action. The troopers were walking slowly alongside a law enforcement vehicle with open doors, which they used as shields, Evans said.
Almost immediately, someone started shooting at the troopers, Ipsen said. The troopers and Kotzebue police fired back, she said, but she wasn’t sure if the suspect was struck. Witnesses said they could see bullet holes in the truck windshield.
One trooper went down and was helped to safety by another officer. He was medically evacuated to a hospital in Anchorage. The other trooper didn’t realize he was hurt until someone else noticed he was bleeding, Evans said. Ipsen said a round or shrapnel grazed his head and that he was treated and released at a clinic in Kotzebue.
As of 4:30 p.m., the suspect remained barricaded inside the vehicle, Ipsen said.
Because both troopers fired back, their names will not be released for three days, which is standard for officer-involved shootings.
The Kotzebue airport was closed to non-emergency traffic. The runway is near Ted Stevens Way. Authorities also barricaded the road.
A tactical team from Southcentral Alaska made up mainly of troopers flew in from Anchorage to get control of the suspect, Ipsen said. A witness, Jim Magdanz said the team got to the scene about 3 p.m. Around 4:45 p.m., a dump truck and a front-end loader that appeared to have officers on board began moving toward the suspect’s vehicle, Magdanz said.
The situation is still developing, Ipsen said. Troopers ask Kotzebue residents to stay away from the area and stay indoors if possible.