An Alaska state trooper shot and killed a man wielding a baseball bat after a car chase early Friday on the Glenn Highway north of Anchorage, according to a written statement from troopers.
The shooting, at about 4:20 a.m., and the subsequent investigation caused law enforcement to shut down the highway near the ThunderbirdFalls exit, snarling heavy morning commuter traffic for hours.
Late Friday, troopers identified the man who was shot as Justin Lloyd Abrahamson, 29, who was released from jail a week earlier for a drunken driving charge.
No law enforcement officers were injured in the Friday morning incident, and there were no reports of damage to their vehicles, troopers said.
The pursuit began in Wasilla when Abrahamson drove from Tommy Moe Road onto the Parks Highway without using his turn signal, the troopers' statement says. Troopers tried to stop the 1994 Saturn Coupe on the highway at Lucille Street, but he kept driving for about six miles until troopers threw out a spike strip that punched a hole in one tire just before the Trunk Road exit, the statement says.
Troopers continued to chase the car onto the Glenn Highway, where it caught fire, the troopers said. It was unclear how the vehicle caught fire, a troopers spokeswoman said.
Abandoning the disabled car, Abrahamson ran to the oncoming lane, troopers said.
"Attempts to subdue the individual, including use of a Taser, were unsuccessful," the statement says. "The man then stopped running and advanced on three troopers with a raised bat."
The trooper shot at Abrahamson, striking and killing him, the statement says. The shooting is the sixth in 2012 involving state troopers, the agency said.
When asked if there were witnesses other than the troopers or other authorities at the scene of the shooting, troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen responded that the case is still under investigation. Ipsen said the investigators are actively looking for anyone who saw the chase or shooting that they have not contacted already.
The name of the trooper who fired the fatal shot or shots will be released Monday, in three days, according to trooper policy. Troopers are not commenting on certain details, such as where the trooper was standing during the shooting, how many law enforcement officers or other witnesses saw it, or how close Abrahamson was to the troopers.
"This is all going to have to come out later," Ipsen said. "It's still under investigation, as far as the little details, because we're still trying to piece it together."
Because the ongoing investigation involved a vehicle in the southbound lane of travel and a shooting in the northbound lane, troopers had to fully shut down the highway for a time, Ipsen said. The Glenn Highway was fully reopened by 12:30 p.m., and traffic was still moving slowly and lanes were crowded. Troopers and drivers reported vehicles backed up as far as Wasilla, about 20 miles north of the earlier closure.
Rebecca Legatt said she left home in Big Lake at 6 a.m. and was still in traffic more than three hours later. Legatt described the early traffic jam while waiting on the highway.
"It's been stop and go. So you sit for 20 minutes parked, then you move for 100 feet and then park again. So it's not moving at all really," Legatt said, laughing. "People are getting out to relieve themselves in the bushes. Others are standing outside their cars smoking cigarettes."
Late Friday, Ipsen said troopers trying to contact the man's next of kin were having difficulty locating them. Abrahamson's name appeared in an updated trooper dispatch posted about 8 p.m.
According to court records, Abrahamson was arrested June 17 for driving drunk and jailed in Palmer. Abrahamson posted bail and was released from custody July 27, exactly one week before the pursuit and shooting Friday.
Investigators ask that anyone who witnessed the chase or shooting call the Alaska Bureau of Investigation in Palmer at (907) 745-2131.
Contact reporter Casey Grove at firstname.lastname@example.org or (907) 257-4589