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Wasilla man dead in officer-involved shooting

  • Author: Zaz Hollander
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published September 15, 2014

WASILLA -- Wasilla police shot and killed a 23-year-old man after responding to a possible domestic disturbance on the city's western edge early Monday morning, an department spokesman said.

The incident began when two officers responded to a 911 disconnect from a home on North Jack Nicklaus Drive in the Mission Hills subdivision just after midnight, Wasilla Police Department Officer Rick Manrique said. Police suspected a domestic situation because of audible background noise that dispatchers could hear during the call before someone hung up the phone.

The officers got to the home and saw there was "an ongoing emergency" involving a weapon and a man later identified as Michael Bonty harming himself with it, Manrique said. He would not identify what kind of weapon was involved.

The officers forced open the front door, Manrique said. Bonty refused to relinquish the weapon and had turned it on a female also inside the home, he said.

One or both of the officers shot at Bonty, who died at the scene, Manrique said. He declined to say how many shots were fired, which officer's weapon was involved or how many times Bonty was shot.

He said the officers and Bonty were separated by "a very short distance" when the shooting occurred.

The woman in the house at the time was taken to the hospital for treatment of injuries described by Manrique as superficial. No one else was there when the shooting occurred.

The neat, green-gray, one-story home is owned by Cynthia Bonty, according to Matanuska-Susitna Borough property records. It's in a quiet neighborhood just off Church Road. Hanging flower baskets and a pot overflowing with nasturtiums decorate the porch.

A state Medical Examiner's pickup was parked outside mid-afternoon Wednesday and several Wasilla officers remained on scene.

The officers involved in the shooting will be placed on paid administrative leave for 72 hours, following department policy.

Bonty wasn't familiar to Wasilla police. His only recent arrests had been citations for minor driving offenses such as speeding, failure to carry proof of insurance, not wearing a seatbelt and driving with expired tags.

The incident remains under investigation. Wasilla police are currently short-staffed so Alaska State Troopers are heading the investigation, Manrique said. The department will convene a shooting review board to look into the incident, he said.

So-called "officer-involved shootings" are relatively rare in the Mat-Su borough and even more unusual in Wasilla. The most recent was in March when a Wasilla officer, along with a trooper, shot and killed 52-year-old Wasilla resident Gordon Samel when they saw him drive his pickup toward them after a pursuit through the city.