A man facing two arrest warrants shot an Alaska State Trooper during a traffic stop early Saturday morning in the Valley, according to troopers. The shooter stole the wounded trooper's patrol car and was later found about a mile away, dead inside the vehicle.
The trooper was not seriously injured and returned fire, according to a statement posted online by the troopers public information office. Investigators are not saying whether they think the trooper's shots killed the man, if his fatal wound was self-inflicted, or if he died some other way.
Troopers identified the man as Nicholas Leo Frazier, a 22-year-old Anchorage resident wanted on charges of failure to appear in court, related to a felony burglary charge, and assault. The trooper has not been publicly identified.
According to the statement Saturday morning, the trooper stopped a mini-van about 4:10 a.m. on a Trunk Road intersection, north of the Parks Highway and east of Wasilla. Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said it was a routine traffic stop, but she did not know specifically what initiated it.
There were three people in the vehicle: two men and a woman, Peters said. Frazier, the driver, stepped out as the trooper was talking to a passenger, she said. Frazier allegedly pulled a handgun and fired multiple rounds at the trooper. The trooper, suffering "superficial injuries to the face and head," shot back, Peters said.
The troopers spokeswoman would not say how many times either man is believed to have fired his weapon, nor how many rounds struck the trooper or Frazier.
Along with other troopers, police officers from Wasilla, Palmer and Anchorage rushed to the scene, Peters said. About a mile away, on Fireweed Road, authorities found Frazier dead in the patrol car, troopers said.
Peters said an autopsy would determine the cause of his death.
"Interviews with the two occupants of the vehicle, inspection of their van and the Alaska State Trooper patrol vehicle are still under way to attempt to determine the exact sequence of the events, how many shots were fired, and to assist in determining the cause of death of Frazier," according to a trooper statement posted online Saturday afternoon.
The injured trooper was taken to a hospital, treated and released about 9:15 a.m., she said. He will be identified in three days, in accordance with the agency's policy for trooper-involved shootings.
On May 30, Frazier was arrested in Anchorage and charged with felony burglary and theft. Court records show he posted bail and did not show up in court for a September hearing to change his plea in the burglary case, causing a judge to issue a warrant for his arrest.
On Sept. 9, while his whereabouts remained unknown, Frazier was charged with three counts of felony assault -- one count for trying to injure someone with a weapon and two for allegedly causing them to fear injury -- and a second warrant was issued, according to court records.
The Saturday morning gunfire between Frazier and the trooper marks Alaska's eighth trooper-involved shooting of 2012. Four of those have ended with a suspect dead. In 2009, 2010 and 2011 combined, there were eight trooper-involved shootings, also resulting in four fatalities.
Reach Casey Grove at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4589.