"Pure, simple stupidity" was the cause of an encounter near Sterling Saturday night in which several teen-age boys were allegedly involved in firing blank cartridges from a pistol at a passing vehicle from the window of their Dodge pickup.
"They were just lucky that the nobody in that car they shot at was packing heat," said Greg Wilkinson, Alaska State Trooper spokesperson. "They could have had their butts blown away."
Sgt. Sonny Sabala, the trooper who made the arrest, said that at approximately 9 p.m. Saturday, a Nikiski man reported to troopers he was driving southbound near Mile 64 of the Sterling Highway when a Dodge pickup passed him and a boy leaned out of the window of the pickup. This boy then pointed a gun at the vehicle and fired several times.
"There was no reason for the driver to suspect that the gun wasn't real," Wilkinson said. "Those blanks are loud, and the fire comes blasting out of the muzzle. Think what might have happened to those dummies if someone in that car had owned a real gun."
After the juvenile fired the first time, the driver of the pickup pulled over and allowed the Nikiski driver and his two passengers to pass. The driver then pulled onto the highway, caught up to him again, and the shooter fired at him a second time. Then the juveniles drove away at a high speed in the direction of Soldotna.
"It had to be a high rate of speed," Sabala said.
When Sabala and his partner, Trooper Joe Whittom, caught up to the Dodge and its five occupants near Mile 92 of the Sterling Highway, only a few minutes had passed since the incident had been reported, and the vehicle had traveled 28 miles.
The blank-firing pistol was found in the vehicle and all five juveniles identified it as the weapon used in the incident.
The victims told troopers they believed they were being fired at by a real gun.
The driver of the pickup, a 16-year-old from Nikiski, was issued a citation for negligent driving. The 17-year-old, also of Nikiski, who fired the weapon, was arrested on three counts of third-degree assault and remanded to Juvenile Intake. Three other teen-age passengers were not charged.
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