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One dead, one injured after officers open fire in Wasilla

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published March 10, 2014

Gordon Samel, a 52-year-old Wasilla man, is dead after an Alaska state trooper and a Wasilla police officer opened fire when he allegedly tried to run over the Wasilla Police Department Officer Sunday night.

According to a trooper dispatch report, at 8:37 p.m., a citizen reported two apparently intoxicated men inside a white Chevrolet truck, for which he gave the license plate number. At the time the truck was parked in a lot off of the Parks Highway and Palmer-Wasilla Highway.

Both Wasilla police and troopers were notified. A trooper spotted the truck less than 10 minutes later, parked behind it and knocked on the window. The men allegedly did not cooperate, but instead fled, driving around a group of local businesses before turning south on the Parks Highway, across the median into the southbound lanes, turning onto South Hermon Road, then onto East Whispering Woods Drive, which intersects with the Seward Meridian Parkway.

The truck, driven by Samel, did a 180-degree turn, and two trooper vehicles and one Wasilla police vehicle encircled it. A trooper and a police officer approached the car on foot. Samel allegedly put the truck into reverse and headed for the police officer. Both officers fired. Samel was pronounced dead at the scene.

The truck's passenger had non-threatening injuries and has not been charged. Neither officer was injured; the names of both will be released Wednesday.

The Alaska Department of Law's Office of Special Prosecutions, will further investigate and determine whether or not the use of deadly force was justified. Troopers spokesperson Beth Ispen said this is the first trooper-involved shooting of the year.