A worker with ASAP towing moves a yellow SUV involved in a shooting near Mile 147.5 Sterling Highway about 11:30 p.m. Sunday. Alaska State Troopers opened the highway about 11:45 p.m. once the SUV and an Alaska Wildlife Trooper truck were moved. About 200 vehicles waited in both directions for the highway to clear.
ANCHORAGE — Authorities were trying to determine Monday what occurred along a major highway when a traffic stop for erratic driving ended with a woman being wounded during a shootout with an Alaska trooper. Troopers gave chase after receiving reports Sunday evening that a woman was driving erratically and firing a gun from a yellow sport utility vehicle on Sterling Highway on the Kenai Peninsula. An Alaska wildlife trooper tried to stop the SUV near Happy Valley, but the driver kept going then slowed the vehicle. “When the vehicle temporarily stopped, the female driver began shooting,” trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters said in a release. “The AWT trooper returned fire.” After the exchange of gunshots, the woman sped off again and eventually stopped in the middle of the road as other law officers converged. “She drove a little further and stopped and then we were trying to get her to cooperate and she finally put her hands out the side and it was safe for us to go up,” Peters said in an interview. The woman, whose name has not been released, was inside the stopped SUV for about a half-hour before she made both hands visible so troopers could approach. At that point, officers discovered she had been shot in the torso. She was rushed to South Peninsula Hospital in Homer then transferred to the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage. Her condition could not be determined. Peters said the woman has not been arrested or charged and therefore her identity was being withheld. She was the only person in the SUV. A firearm was located in the vehicle, and several spent shell casings were recovered, authorities said. The trooper involved in the shooting was placed on administrative leave for three days, which is normal procedure after trooper-involved shootings. Peters said the bullet that wounded the woman is believed to have been from the trooper’s gun. It appears at least one round from the woman’s pistol hit the trooper’s car, she said. Twice in 2009 troopers killed women who refused to drop their weapons. Authorities said a 58-year-old Wasilla woman was shot by troopers after leveling a shotgun at them. Prior to the shooting, Nora Jean York repeatedly said she intended to commit “suicide by cop,” troopers said. A standoff with troopers that same year resulted in a shootout and the death of Debra Torrey, a 38-year-old Wasilla woman who authorities said refused to drop her gun outside a medical clinic.