Troopers shoot and kill man as Ester standoff ends in confrontation

A car parked near trees.
An Alaska State Troopers vehicle (Elyssa Loughlin/KYUK)

Alaska State Troopers shot and killed a heavily armed domestic-violence suspect who on Wednesday, they say, barricaded himself in his house near Ester, just south of Fairbanks.

An online trooper dispatch says the incident began Tuesday, when 54-year-old Matthew Heller allegedly threatened a woman at his home with a rifle. She escaped unharmed and reported the threat.

Troopers say they went to the residence near Standard Creek to talk with Heller, but they left after observing that he was heavily armed and had barricaded himself in his house.

Troopers’ Northern Special Emergency Reaction Team, or SERT, went to Heller’s home again with an arrest warrant at about 6:45 p.m. Wednesday.

Troopers spokesperson Austin McDaniel says the team saw that Heller had again barricaded himself in the house. This time, he had piled up some sandbags to prevent people from entering the home.

“There were sandbags stacked about 4 feet high on the outside, kind of near doors,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel said that troopers and SERT members tried to negotiate with Heller over the next three hours to get him to come out of the house unarmed.

At 10 p.m. Wednesday, officers saw Heller point a firearm at one of the SERT officers, according to the trooper report. Several officers fired their weapons in response, striking Heller. Troopers provided first aid, but he died at the scene.

Alaska Bureau of Investigation officers then arrived to begin an investigation into the shooting. Troopers say once that’s completed, their findings will be reviewed by the Alaska Office of Special Prosecutions.

The state Department of Public Safety will identify the officers who shot Heller on Saturday, 72 hours after his death.

Tim Ellis is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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