An Alaska state trooper shot and killed a Wasilla woman at a Houston trailer home during a standoff that started late Sunday and remains under investigation.
Troopers said in a dispatch Monday morning that 38-year-old Patricia Kruger was declared dead at the scene off Hawk Lane, near Houston Middle School. Troopers were told just after 11 p.m. Sunday of a disturbance that began when Kruger entered the home.
"Kruger was allowed into the residence by the homeowner, at which time she grabbed the homeowner's gun," troopers wrote. "As the homeowner fled the residence, Kruger fired the gun. Troopers set up a perimeter at the residence for the public's safety."
Troopers tried to contact Kruger but weren't able to do so, and she fired more shots from a handgun.
"Kruger pointed the gun at a trooper, at which time he fired his weapon, striking Kruger," troopers wrote. "Next of kin have been notified."
Kruger's body will be sent to the State Medical Examiner Office for an autopsy, as well as toxicology testing to determine whether she had used drugs or alcohol, as the Alaska Bureau of Investigations continues to investigate the case.
Kruger's court record includes five guilty pleas to and misdemeanor convictions for fourth-degree assault from 2009 to 2015, including a 2012 case in which the original assault charge against her was a felony before it was amended.
Troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said in an email that investigators haven't found any indication that the homeowner knew Kruger. Three troopers initially responded to the trailer, with no formal callout made to the scene for members of troopers' Special Emergency Reaction Team. Troopers didn't deploy any less-lethal munitions like flash-bang grenades during the standoff.
"Troopers on scene tried communicating with Kruger via a cell phone troopers were trying to provide to her," Ipsen wrote. "An exact timeline is yet to be determined by investigators."
Ipsen said it wasn't clear exactly when the confrontation occurred or how many rounds the trooper fired.
Officer-involved shootings are reviewed by the state's Office of Special Prosecutions, though reviewed incidents can refer to any use of deadly force used by an Alaska law enforcement officer, said Assistant Attorney General Robert Henderson.
Henderson said there is no formal method for tracking officer-involved shootings statewide, but his office has looked at three incidents so far this year. From 2012 to 2015, a total of 35 incidents were reviewed, he said.
Dora Ahkinga, Kruger's mother, said by phone from Nome that news of her daughter's death came as a particularly harsh blow, given the death of a son nearly three years ago and a granddaughter shortly afterward.
"I try to be very strong, as an elder -- I know it's very hard," said Dora Ahkinga. "Patty was a friendly girl, she was small and she's always happy with us; she just called me last week to ask me what we're doing, since we're elders."
Florence Ahkinga, Kruger's sister, said Kruger was one of several daughters in a large Little Diomede family. She said Kruger moved to Southcentral Alaska in the 1990s, dividing her time between Anchorage and the Mat-Su area.
"She had a really great sense of humor, always making jokes about everything," Florence Ahkinga said. "She was my role model -- she was my baby sitter."
Florence described her sister's death as "a big surprise," saying that Kruger had a criminal record but nothing that suggested she would ever threaten a trooper with deadly force.
"I know she's done some things to go to jail in the past, but nothing like this; it was unexpected," Florence Ahkinga said. "It was a shock -- it's still a shock, I can't believe it."
The name of the trooper who fired on Kruger is being withheld for 72 hours, in accordance with Department of Public Safety policy.
Alaska Dispatch Publishing