The 45-year-old man shot and killed by law enforcement officers during an exchange of gunfire Wednesday on the Parks Highway was involved in an open investigation that prompted the attempted traffic stop and pursuit, Alaska State Troopers said Thursday.
The driver, identified in an update Thursday as Michael Grimes, died at the scene, troopers said. A passenger, identified as 42-year-old Melody Perry of North Pole, was not injured and was arrested on a felony charge of misconduct involving a weapon, they said.
The incident near Healy marked the second time this week that troopers fatally shot a man. A 21-year-old was shot early Monday outside a Tok motel room.
Troopers say the Parks Highway shooting occurred after Grimes failed to stop when they tried to pull over his northbound pickup truck around 1:10 p.m. north of Healy.
The troopers had tried to stop the vehicle because Grimes was involved in a “felony-level investigation,” said spokesman Austin McDaniel. He did not provide details about the substance of the investigation because the case is still active, he said.
Troopers initiated a pursuit when Grimes refused to stop, they said. Grimes fired a gun at officers multiple times, they said.
“Due to the extreme public safety risk that the driver posed to the public, troopers and other law enforcement officers assisting with the pursuit returned fire, striking the driver,” troopers said in a release Wednesday.
Law enforcement used spike strips and a driving maneuver to stop the truck, troopers said. The pursuit extended for roughly five miles, ending at Mile 257 of the highway, McDaniel said.
Grimes and law enforcement officers at the scene continued to exchange gunfire after the truck stopped, troopers said. Grimes died at the scene, they said.
No officers were injured during the encounter, according to troopers.
Troopers from the criminal suppression units in Fairbanks, Healy and Nenana responded at some point during the traffic stop or pursuit, along with officers from a Fairbanks-area narcotics team, McDaniel said.
The Parks Highway was closed for about 3 1/2 hours Wednesday afternoon as the scene was documented and vehicles were removed from the area, troopers said.
The Alaska Bureau of Investigation responded to the scene Wednesday to investigate the shooting. The officers who fired at Grimes were placed on administrative leave for 72 hours, per department policy, troopers said. Their names will be publicly released when the leave ends, they said.
Grimes and Perry were in an “intimate relationship,” according to McDaniel. Perry was in custody at Fairbanks Correctional Center and scheduled to appear in court Thursday afternoon.
The Office of Special Prosecutions will independently review the investigation once it’s complete, troopers said.
Grimes’ body was sent to the State Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy, troopers said.
The shooting Monday involved a report that a man was trying to break into one of the rooms. Timothy Thomas was found brandishing an AK-47-style rifle, troopers said.
The agency on Thursday identified the trooper involved in the shooting as Timothy Rosario, a 3-year veteran assigned to the Tok post.
The only additional information troopers provided about the shooting Thursday was that Thomas knew the people in the room and “posed a threat” to them and to Rosario when he was shot, according to McDaniel.
Rosario was not wearing a body camera during the shooting, the spokesman said.
The Department of Public Safety began outfitting troopers with body cameras earlier this year. So far, about 100 officers are outfitted and officials say they plan to equip the rest of the force by the end of the year.