Crime & Courts

Bail set at $1 million for man charged in shooting that wounded trooper in Anchor Point

Update, 1:30 p.m. Thursday: During an arraignment hearing Thursday morning, a judge ordered Bret Herrick be held on a $1 million bail -- a $750,000 cash performance bond and a $250,000 cash appearance bond.

James Cockrell, commissioner of the state Department of Public Safety, said during the hearing that search efforts Monday and into Tuesday included more than 55 law enforcement officers and ultimately cost the public more than $100,000. The massive response took officers away from other work, “leaving some areas of the state without their first responders,” Cockrell said.

The Alaska State Troopers formally identified Bruce Brueggeman on Thursday as the trooper who was wounded and also fired his service gun. Brueggeman has been with the troopers for six months but has 32 years of law enforcement service Outside, troopers said in a statement. He was in good condition Thursday at an Anchorage hospital, troopers said. He will undergo another surgery this week for his injuries, Cockrell said.

Original story:

An Alaska state trooper underwent multiple surgeries after he was shot several times Monday while trying to serve an arrest warrant on an Anchor Point man at a general store, according to charging documents filed by the state.

Bret Herrick, 60, was charged with attempted murder and first-degree assault in connection with the shooting. He was arrested Tuesday morning after an extensive search in and around the Kenai Peninsula town.

A troopers sergeant was trying to locate Herrick around 1 p.m. Monday because he was wanted on four outstanding misdemeanor warrants, according to an affidavit signed by Investigator Timothy Cronin. Herrick had recently been seen at The Warehouse general store on the Sterling Highway, the affidavit said.

Trooper Bruce Brueggeman responded to the store to provide backup for the sergeant but got there first and saw Herrick outside, according to the affidavit. He ordered Herrick to stop, but Herrick can be seen walking away in security video and footage from the patrol vehicle’s dashboard camera, the charges said.

“Trp. Brueggeman quickened pace to catch up to Herrick,” the affidavit said.

Herrick then pulled out a handgun and began firing toward Brueggeman, Cronin wrote. Brueggeman was hit several times in his ballistic vest and in the upper left arm, which caused significant injury and bleeding, the affidavit said.

Five spent .45-caliber casings found on the south side of the building were suspected to have been fired by Herrick, along with one spent .40-caliber casing believed to be from the trooper’s weapon, according to the affidavit. One additional spent casing was in Brueggeman’s handgun, Cronin wrote.

“Trp. Brueggeman reported experiencing a malfunction of his duty weapon during the exchange of gunfire,” the affidavit said.

The sergeant arrived at the scene shortly after the shooting, along with medical help.

Brueggeman was taken by ambulance to Homer and airlifted to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, where he immediately underwent surgery, the affidavit said.

As the search for Herrick began, troopers warned the public he was “considered armed and dangerous.” The borough’s Office of Emergency Management warned people to shelter in place, and the school in Anchor Point canceled classes Tuesday because Herrick had not been located by morning.

Around 10:30 p.m. Monday, troopers served a warrant at Herrick’s home, which is along the highway about two miles from the scene of the shooting, according to the affidavit. Herrick was not home and troopers continued searching through the night, the affidavit said.

He was seen walking through the woods adjacent to his home around 8:40 a.m. Tuesday and was arrested without incident, troopers said. He was carrying a loaded .45 caliber handgun, an empty magazine and another loaded magazine, the affidavit said.

During an interview with law enforcement at the Homer Police Department, “Herrick spoke briefly about the Second Amendment and possessing firearms. Herrick indicated that he didn’t know why the State Trooper told him to stop at the store, and also asked investigators if the Trooper was OK,” the affidavit said.

An arraignment for Herrick was postponed until Thursday. He is being held without bail on the charge of attempted murder and first-degree assault. He had four outstanding warrants on misdemeanor charges from Homer including resisting arrest, violating conditions of release, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct, according to court records.

By Tuesday, Brueggeman was said to be in “fair” condition after multiple surgeries to his wounded arm and with at least one rib fractured by bullets that struck his ballistics vest, the affidavit said.

Troopers on Wednesday did not provide additional information about Brueggeman, such as his age and years of service with the troopers, pending the official release of his identity by the department on Thursday in accordance with policy that requires a waiting period. Because an officer fired a weapon, the case will be investigated by the Alaska Bureau of Investigation and reviewed by the Alaska Department of Law’s Office of Special Prosecutions.

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