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Trooper chase, shooting leaves suspect dead, closes down Glenn Highway

Alaska Dispatch

Updated 12:30 p.m.

An early-morning pursuit and officer-involved shooting Friday on the Glenn Highway left a suspect dead, according to Alaska State Troopers, and slowed or stopped traffic for hours on the busy commuter road between Alaska's largest city of Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. 

Troopers said the pursuit began in Wasilla, when law-enforcement officers attempted to pull over a 1994 Saturn coupe with a single male occupant after it was observed turning onto the Parks Highway without signalling. The vehicle then sped off with officers in pursuit, according to the trooper dispatch. Spike strips were deployed prior to the Trunk Road turnoff of the Parks, deflating one of the suspect car's tires, but the vehicle continued traveling south.

The vehicle caught fire near the Thunderbird Falls exit on the Glenn Highway, about 25 miles north of Anchorage. At that point, troopers say, the suspect exited the vehicle and ran toward the northbound lanes. A taser was deployed, but failed to stop the suspect, troopers said.

"The man then stopped running and advanced on three troopers with a raised bat," the dispatch said. "At that time, a trooper fired and shot the man with his duty weapon" at about 4:20 a.m. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene. According to trooper policy, the name of the trooper who shot the suspect won't be released for 72 hours. 

Wasilla and Anchorage police were also involved. No officers or troopers were injured.

The southbound chase, ending in the northbound lanes of the highway, temporarily closed the major traffic artery connecting Wasilla and Anchorage. Authorities managed to open one southbound lane for traffic heading into Anchorage, then opened the other southbound lane soon after for northbound traffic to use. Pilot cars were guiding traffic through the area. Traffic backed all the way to the Glenn/Parks Highway interchange, about 10 miles north of where the chase ended.

The investigation lasted for several hours. While it continued, the northbound lanes of the Glenn remain closed. Ipsen said traffic is moving, but it still wasn't the usual morning commute at 8:30 a.m.

"Traffic’s backed up for miles and moving slowly," Ipsen said at that time. "It’s going to be a while before everything is cleared."

Troopers said at about 12:30 p.m. that the northbound lanes had opened and officers were working to clear traffic cones from the road.