Alaska News

Wasilla man shot dead by troopers after he allegedly killed pursuing K-9

A Wasilla man was shot and killed by troopers early Sunday after he led police on a high-speed chase and opened fire on a police dog, killing the animal, Alaska State Troopers said.

At 2:50 a.m. Sunday, troopers tried to make a traffic stop on a Subaru Legacy around the area of Bogard Road and Helen Lane in Wasilla, according to a dispatch posted online.

The driver sped away, leading officers on a 45-minute chase that ended when troopers disabled the vehicle with spike strips near Mile 45.5 of the Parks Highway.

"The driver of the Subaru exited the vehicle, ignored commands from AST and attempted to flee," the dispatch said. When troopers deployed a K-9, the driver "turned and fired a handgun," striking the dog, troopers said.

"Troopers returned fire, striking the suspect," according to the dispatch.

The man, 36-year-old Justin Quincy Smith of Wasilla, was taken to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center but died of his injuries.

Public records show that Smith was a longtime Alaska resident who had lived in Sitka and Bethel before more recently living in Wasilla.


Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said she couldn't answer additional questions about the shooting on Sunday, including the name of the K-9. The officers involved will not be named for 72 hours, per department policy.

Smith had two warrants out for his arrest, for second-degree assault and a probation violation, troopers said.

The dog was the second troopers K-9 slain in the Mat-Su in the past year.

On Sept. 25, a trooper dog named Helo was shot by a suspect during a traffic stop in Palmer, according to investigators. Helo was the first AST K-9 killed in the line of duty.

The death is the second fatal trooper-involved shooting this year. In February, troopers shot and killed Jean Valescot, a 35-year-old Big Lake man, after an armed standoff involving his young son.

Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a longtime reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She focuses on in-depth stories about the intersection of public policy and Alaskans' lives. Before joining the ADN in 2012, she worked at daily newspapers up and down the West Coast and earned a master's degree from the University of Oregon.