33-year-old man shoots himself after holding police, troopers at bay for 2 hours

Standoff in Seward ends in tragedy

Posted: Thursday, January 11, 2001

A two-hour standoff with Alaska State Troopers and officers from the Seward Police Department ended in a 33-year old Seward man taking his own life Tuesday.

Troopers approached Clayton Stoddard at 6:14 p.m. on the porch of his Camelot subdivision residence in Seward after receiving a report of domestic violence from Stoddard's wife. According to Sgt. Brandon Anderson of the Seward trooper post, an intoxicated Stoddard was yelling and waiving a .41-caliber handgun, claiming he would kill himself and anyone who tried to enter the residence.

"Troopers did everything they could do to ease the situation," said Greg Wilkinson, information officer for the troopers. "They backed away, established a parameter around the residence and stayed out of sight to help ease the tension of the situation. Throughout the incident troopers continually backed away and used tactics to make sure they did not aggravate (Stoddard) in any way."

Troopers and Seward police, who had arrived to assist in the situation, made several attempts to talk Stoddard out of his house, but he continued to threaten to kill himself and anyone who tried to come in. According to Anderson, once phone connections were established into the residence and troopers continued to try and negotiate Stoddard out, a shot from the handgun was fired inside the house and the phone was slammed down, ending the connection.

"According to his wife, this was not the first time he suggested something like this could happen," Anderson said. "The troopers and the Seward police showed incredible restraint and did their best to keep anyone from getting hurt, including him."

After approximately an hour of holding back out of the sight of Stoddard, a trooper witnessed an older-model Chevrolet pickup truck with its lights off begin to back out of the driveway. Troopers immediately deployed a stinger -- a tire deflation device -- on the road about 100-feet from the residence's driveway in an attempt to stop the vehicle. Stoddard maneuvered around the stinger and around a corner of the road before driving his truck into the ditch.

"The road conditions were icy but he wasn't traveling very fast. In fact, he was going quite slow," Anderson said. "It seems that he was just too intoxicated to keep the vehicle on the road."

Two trooper vehicles and two Seward police vehicles stopped short of the pickup and illuminated the cab and Stoddard with spotlights. Stoddard refused to exit the vehicle, despite several requests from the troopers and continued to wave his gun at the officers.

"He was distressed and continually pointed the handgun at the troopers and Seward police," Wilkinson said. "You have to give credit to the officers for not firing their weapons in a situation like that."

Anderson said Stoddard pleaded with officers to shoot him.

"He kept saying he would not go to jail," Anderson said. "I moved in closer to try and communicate with him and he kept saying that we should just shoot him."

At approximately 8:25 p.m., after about five minutes of attempted negotiation with Stoddard in his car, Stoddard placed the handgun against his head and fired a single round. After waiting to ensure the safety of the situation, troopers and police moved to the cab of the truck and found Stoddard dead.

Wilkinson said Stoddard's wife, 44, and her two children, 7 and 5, who had fled the house in the early stages of the standoff, were not harmed in the incident.

Troopers are continuing their investigation.

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