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An Alaska state trooper shot and killed a man wielding a baseball bat after a car chase early this morning 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 Thunderbird Falls exit, snarling heavy morning commuter traffic for hours.
No law enforcement officers were injured, troopers said. The name of the man who was shot has not been released.
The pursuit began in Wasilla when the man 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 the man 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.
Authorities, including troopers and Wasilla and Anchorage police officers, continued to chase the vehicle onto the Glenn Highway, where it caught fire, the troopers said.
The man jumped out and ran, heading to his left and 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 and fired, killing the suspect, the statement says.
When asked if there were witnesses other than the troopers involved in 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.
The name of the trooper who fired the fatal shot or shots will be released in three days, according to trooper policy.
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 reportedly still moving slowly and lanes were crowded.
Commuters on the highway said earlier that they were stopped and backed up for miles. Anchorage police had a pilot car to shuttle vehicles past the investigation scene. Traffic was moving slowly in both directions in the southbound lanes past the shooting scene at about 9 a.m.
Rebecca Legatt said she left home in Big Lake at 6 a.m. and was still in traffic more than three hours later.
"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."
The investigators looking into the shooting ask that anyone who witnesseed 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
By CASEY GROVE
Anchorage Daily News