Wasilla man, trooper dog killed in weekend shooting

A Wasilla man and a trooper dog are both dead after a shooting incident on the Parks Highway over the weekend.

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Alaska State Troopers say they tried to stop a car about 2:50 a.m. Sunday near Wasilla. The driver, later identified as 36-year-old Justin Quincy Smith, sped off until troopers punctured his tires with a spike strip about 45 minutes later.

Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said Smith ran from the car, and the troopers sent a dog after him.

“The driver ended up turning around and firing off a handgun that actually shot and killed our dog,” Peters said. “The troopers then returned fire, and the suspect was injured.”

Smith died a short time later. Troopers did not immediately release the name of the dog or the names of the troopers involved in the shooting. Peters also said she could not discuss many details of the case, as the investigation continues.

Court records show Smith was out on bail in a February case for felony charges that include assault and failing to stop for police. He also had two active arrest warrants.

It is only the second time that a trooper dog has been shot and killed, Peters said. In September, a man fleeing arrest shot and killed K-9 Helo.

Peters said for the dogs’ handlers, losing the animals is difficult.

“First and foremost, the K-9s are a tool that we use,” Peters said. “That being said, they are an animal, and troopers do become attached to their animal, essentially it’s their partner.”

Smith’s death marks the second trooper-involved shooting this year.

Casey Grove is the host of Alaska News Nightly and a general assignment reporter at Alaska Public Media with an emphasis on crime and courts.

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