Alaska State Troopers on Tuesday identified a trooper injured during a Saturday morning traffic stop as Andre Ballesteros, who returned fire after receiving what a spokeswoman referred to as "superficial" wounds to the face and head from a suspect.
Ballesteros pulled over a vehicle with three occupants around 4 a.m. Saturday for a routine traffic violation, troopers said. The stop occurred near a Trunk Road roundabout just off the Parks Highway near Wasilla.
As Ballesteros spoke with one of the vehicle's occupants, troopers said a man identified as 22-year-old Nicholas Leo Frazier got out and began firing a handgun at Ballesteros. The trooper was able to return fire before Frazier reportedly jumped into Ballesteros' patrol vehicle and fled the scene. He was later found deceased about a mile from the scene of the shooting, still in the trooper vehicle.
Troopers said initially they weren't sure if Ballesteros hit the suspect when he fired his gun. But Frazier's autopsy results -- also released Tuesday -- concluded that he was struck twice by bullets fired from Ballesteros' gun. However, the results didn't indicate that those shots were fatal.
"Frazier also received two gunshot wounds while seated inside the patrol vehicle after fleeing from the initial scene," troopers reported based on the medical examiner's autopsy results. "These additional gunshot wounds appear to be self-inflicted, at least one of which was fatal."
Ballesteros, a nine-year veteran of the troopers, was admitted to a hospital for treatment of his wounds, but he was released shortly after 9 a.m. Saturday.
Frazier was wanted on multiple arrest warrants at the time of the shooting, including one issued in September for three counts of felony assault. He was also wanted for failure to appear in court on a burglary charge.
Troopers report that the Alaska Bureau of Investigation continues to examine the incident.
Contact Ben Anderson at ben(at)alaskadispatch.com