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Alaska Beat

2 Alaska Troopers wounded after standoff in Kotzebue

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published June 18, 2012

In remote Northwest Alaska, two state troopers were injured Sunday after a nine-hour standoff that ended with the gunman apparently killing himself.

The standoff happened in Kotzebue, a predominantly Inupiat Eskimo town of about 3,200 above the Arctic Circle.

Alaska State Troopers responded to reports of gunshots at around 9 a.m. Sunday. As they approached Arvid Nelson Jr.'s pickup, he allegedly started firing at troopers.

Two troopers were wounded, including one seriously who was flown to Anchorage for treatment.

Nelson remained in his pickup, with the standoff lasting some nine hours until he apparently turned his gun on himself, according to authorities.

The Associated Press reported that Kotzebue City Attorney Joe Evans witnessed the initial gunfire exchange:

"When I arrived, I thought nothing else was going to happen," Evans said.

With a Kotzebue officer driving a patrol car, at least two officers on foot approached the pickup. The officers on foot were shielded by the open front doors of the patrol car. ...

The patrol car drove about 1 mph, he said, and when it was about 15 yards from the pickup, shots rang out. A trooper behind the driver's side door crumpled to the ground.

The other officers came to his assistance and placed the wounded man in the car. The patrol car backed up with the wounded man inside.

At least one officer returned fire but it's unknown whether the suspect was struck, Ipsen said.

The others officers gathered near the chief's car, Evans said. The second trooper said his head hurt, Evans said, and when he took off his cap, he noticed he was bleeding.

"There was a track across his head," Evans said.

The trooper had suffered either a graze from a bullet or possibly, shrapnel from a piece of a bullet off a ricochet, Evans said. The trooper at first declined treatment but then drove to the clinic.

A trooper spokeswoman didn't provide many details on what caused the incident to escalate, nor the the names of the troopers injured in the shooting.

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