An early-morning traffic stop turned into a shooting Saturday, when an Alaska State Trooper was injured by a suspect who then took the trooper's patrol car and was later found dead a mile from the scene of the shooting.
According to a dispatch posted by troopers, the trooper was conducting a routine traffic stop on a Trunk Road roundabout near the Parks Highway shortly after 4 a.m. on a mini-van occupied by three individuals. As the trooper spoke with one of the vehicle's occupants, another man allegedly got out of the car and began firing at the trooper, injuring him.
The man, now identified as 22-year-old Nicholas Leo Frazier of Anchorage, fired multiple rounds and injured the trooper, according to troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters. The trooper was able to return fire even though he had what Peters described as "superficial" injuries to his face and head.
Frazier then reportedly jumped into the trooper's patrol vehicle and fled the scene. He was later found dead about one mile from the scene, still in the trooper's vehicle.
"His patrol car was found on the frontage road," on the other side of the highway where the traffic stop occurred, Peters said. "It had to be shut down after the shooting, but traffic was rerouted around on the roundabout, so there were no significant impacts to traffic."
It wasn't immediately clear if the trooper had hit the suspect when he returned fire, or whether the suspect had died as a result of being shot by the trooper, or other causes. Troopers said that the officer's name will not be released until 72 hours have passed, per policy.
Peters said she believed the 72 hours policy kicks in in any case where a trooper has used "potentially lethal force," so it didn't necessarily mean that the trooper had managed to hit the suspect.
She said that information on the suspect's injuries likely won't be forthcoming until an autopsy is performed, which will probably take place Monday.
"We are not releasing details on injuries as it is under investigation," Peters said in an email. "We will be looking to the autopsy to confirm information before we release details."
Previous to the incident, Frazier was wanted for failure to appear in court in relation to two separate incidents. The first came after a felony burglary charge was filed against him in Anchorage on May 30. When Frazier failed to show up to court the judge issued a warrant for his arrest. The second came on Sept. 9 after three counts of felony assault were filed against Frazier. At the time Frazier's where abouts were unknown and so the court issued a second warrant for his arrest.
The trooper was taken to a nearby hospital and released at about 9:15 a.m. and the Alaska Bureau of Investigation is looking into the incident.
Contact Ben Anderson at ben(at)alaskadispatch.com