Soldotna man attempts to get officer's weapon

Posted: Sunday, February 01, 2004

Just five weeks after a Kenai police officer was shot and killed in the line of duty, a man allegedly attempted to take a Soldotna police officer's weapon early Friday morning after being arrested for driving under the influence.

Joel K. Blatchford, 48, of Soldotna, was charged with first-degree attempted assault and first-degree attempted escape, after he tried to take Officer Gisele Webster's handgun while she was processing his arrest at the Alaska State Trooper "E" Detachment headquarters in Soldotna, according to charging documents.

Webster had arrested Blatchford after reportedly finding him in his pickup truck stuck in a snow berm on Echo Lake Road.

Blatchford was taken to the trooper post and was being processed for DUI when he allegedly lunged at Webster and grabbed her .45 caliber automatic pistol, attempting to remove it from its holster.

According to Webster's report, during a struggle, Blatchford was able to free one of three retention straps holding the gun in the holster.

The struggle continued until trooper Sgt. Craig Macdonald heard Webster yell for help, rushed to her aid and reportedly saw the 5-foot, 9-inch, 180-pound Blatchford struggling with Webster's weapon.

Macdonald used pepper spray and physical force to remove Blatchford from Webster, Soldotna Police administrative Sgt. Marvin Towell said Friday afternoon.

Blatchford was taken to Wildwood Pretrial Facility.

"It was like deja vu," Towell said, referring to the recent shooting in Kenai in which Officer John Watson was shot and killed on Christmas during a struggle with a suspect.

David S. Forster, 34, of Kenai, is charged in that case with one count of first-degree murder, two counts of third-degree assault and two counts of domestic-violence related third-degree assault.



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