It was big trouble in little Dillingham Sunday as Alaska State Troopers say that a local teenager got confrontational with an officer in the Southwest Alaska community of about 2,400, then set the backseat of the trooper vehicle on fire while in custody.
A dispatch posted by troopers said that a trooper on patrol in Dillingham was stopped at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday when a 15-year-old male stepped into the roadway in front of the moving vehicle then refused to get out of the way.
When the trooper got out of the vehicle to attempt to gather information from the teen, the youngster then allegedly tried to punch the officer.
"A struggle ensued where the teenager continued to punch and spit on the trooper," the dispatch said. "He was restrained by the trooper and had minimal injuries. The trooper was not injured."
The teen was taken into custody and placed into the trooper vehicle, where he was being taken to the Dillingham Police Department. On the way, troopers said that the teen took a small lighter from somewhere on his person and set the back seat of the patrol vehicle ablaze, forcing the trooper to pull over and let the suspect out of the vehicle.
According to troopers' spokeswoman Megan Peters, troopers would normally confiscate a lighter after searching a suspect prior to being taken into custody.
"The Bic lighter was very small -- about a third of the size of a normal lighter," Peters said. "If it had been noticed in the clothing, it would have been taken."
Peters said that only the seat was damaged in the fire, and that troopers in the community had another vehicle available and were in the process of ordering a new seat for the damaged vehicle. The damage was described only as "moderate."
The teen was eventually taken to Anchorage after the Office of Children's Services and the Division of Juvenile Justice were notified. He is expected to face charges of arson in the first degree, third-degree criminal mischief, assaulting a police officer and harassment.
Contact Ben Anderson at ben(at)alaskadispatch.com