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Crime & Courts

Anchorage airport police open fire when truck driver tries to run them over, official says

Anchorage airport officials say an officer shot his service handgun at a pickup truck that appeared to be trying to run him over Wednesday morning.

The incident started around 7 a.m. when an officer attempted to check on the driver and the passenger in the truck, parked at the Coast International Inn, said Deputy Police Chief David Schulling at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. The hotel is next to Lake Hood, which Schulling described as one of the airport police's "primary patrol areas."

"The officer noticed the vehicle was sitting idle in the parking lot with two individuals slumped over — appeared to be sleeping or unconscious," Schulling said.

Airport manager John Parrott said in an interview earlier Wednesday afternoon that police were conducting a traffic stop on the pickup truck, but later said they were checking on its occupants before shots were fired.

Schulling said the first officer who arrived outside of the hotel Wednesday morning looked up the truck's vehicle identification number as he waited for backup and determined that the truck was stolen. Two other officers soon arrived and they attempted to wake up the truck's occupants, Schulling said.

He said the pickup driver then reached his arm down into the truck and the officers "couldn't see what he was doing." The officer was "yelling at him to get his hands up so he could see them," Schulling said.

The driver put the car in drive, Schulling continued, and "gunned it and rammed into the vehicle parked in front of him."

"Our officers are standing there watching him and then because he couldn't go any farther, he backed up at a high rate of speed, toward the officers," Schulling said.

The pickup smashed into another car, he said. One of the officers, who had run behind that car, opened fire.

"The officer was retreating and then he shot into the vehicle to defend himself," Schulling said.

Parrott said the pickup driver "attempted to run over the officers." When asked if any bullets hit the truck or its occupants, Parrott said, "We don't know until we find the vehicle and the people inside." He added that the officers were not injured.

Schulling said the pickup left the parking lot and drove toward the airport, did a loop and headed back down West International Airport Road, toward Spenard — in the wrong lane of traffic.

He said airport police soon lost sight of the truck. They notified the Anchorage Police Department about what happened, he said.

Schulling said airport police "work hand in hand" with APD and other law enforcement agencies. Airport police are employed by the state Department of Transportation and are state-certified law enforcement officers just like city police and Alaska State Troopers.

Airport police have statewide jurisdiction, but primarily patrol airport property, he said.

Around 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, APD asked the public for help locating the pickup, a 2006 maroon four-door Chevrolet Silverado. Police sent out a follow-up alert around 1:30 p.m., notifying the public that the truck had been found.

But police continued to search for the truck's driver and passenger Wednesday afternoon.

Police said in the advisory that the driver was described "as a white or mixed-race male in his late 20s or early 30s with a full 'sleeve' tattoo on his left arm, possible neck tattoo on his left side." They said he "was last seen wearing a dark-colored flat bill hat and a silver and black football jersey."

There was also an adult male passenger in the truck, who appeared to be Alaska Native, police said. They said no further description was available.

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