A Big Lake man found a body on Wednesday that appears to be the same man who shot at Alaska State Troopers after a car chase last week.
Jim Faiks said he was out in his pontoon boat on Stephan Lake at 5 p.m. Wednesday when he noticed a body floating close to the shore. The body appeared to fit the description of the man being pursued by troopers on June 25.
Troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said she couldn't confirm or deny a link between the two events, adding that authorities are waiting for the state medical examiner to identify the body.
"We have not ruled that they are or are not connected," she said in an email. "Both incidents are still under investigation."
Faiks said troopers had pursued the man in last week's car chase to a gate that leads to Faiks' property. There, the man left his vehicle and fired at officers, Faiks said.
He said troopers had searched his 70-acre property without finding the man.
Then, that evening, one of Faiks' neighbors, who lives on an island a quarter-mile offshore, called troopers to report a distressed swimmer.
"She had heard and seen someone splashing around in the lake," Faiks said.
Three troopers responded and searched the island -- which Faiks said was less than an acre -- without finding anything. Neither did the Mat-Su Borough Dive Rescue team when it searched the next day.
Then on Wednesday, Faiks said, he was fishing for pike, which he is trying to eradicate from the lake.
"I caught some pike, and then you've got to get rid of the pike," he said. "So I took them out to where the eagles go, and while I'm going along the shore on the way to that point is where I saw the body floating."
The man wanted from last week's car chase had been described as 5-foot, 7-inches tall, with short hair and "possibly of Asian descent."
Faiks said the body was face-up when he found it, with several tattoos, and it appeared to match the fugitive's description. The troopers who responded to his call seemed to be similarly satisfied, he said.
The water in the lake was warm, about 72 degrees, according to Faiks. He speculated that the man had drowned while trying to swim across the lake while holding his clothes and gun above his head on a snowshoe, which was found near the body.
"He was just in his skivvies and a T-shirt," Faiks said.
Faiks said he and other local residents had been nervous over the past week after the disappearance of the man in the car chase -- especially after authorities told one of his neighbors the man was wanted for second-degree murder. (Ipsen, the troopers spokeswoman, said she could not confirm that.)
"They hadn't found this guy, and he's running around our area," he said. "We're all very relieved around here."
Reach Nathaniel Herz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4311.
By NATHANIEL HERZ