Officers identified in fatal shooting
|March 12, 2014
|Alaska State Troopers have released the names of the Alaska
State Trooper and the Wasilla Police Department Officer who
discharged their handguns on March 9 on Seward Meridian Parkway
and East Whispering Woods Drive, claiming the life of
Gordon E. Samel, 52, Wasilla.
They are identified as Trooper Daron A. Cooper, a six year
veteran of the Alaska State Troopers currently assigned as a K-9
handler in the Palmer Patrol Unit, and Officer Brandon L. Gray,
a two year employee of the Wasilla Police Department currently
assigned to the Patrol Unit.
On March 9 at approximately 8:37 p.m., a citizen called Mat-Com
Dispatch Center to Report Every Dangerous Driver Immediately (REDDI),
the citizen indicated there were two intoxicated males in a
white Chevrolet pickup which pulled into a parking lot at the
intersection of the Parks Highway and the Palmer Wasilla
The citizen provided the license plate number for the pickup
truck. Mat-Com Dispatchers broadcast a locate to both Wasilla
Police Officers and Alaska State Troopers.
A nearby Alaska State Trooper found the suspect pickup truck at
approximately 8:44 p.m., in a parking lot at 1501 East Parks
Highway. The Trooper parked his marked patrol vehicle behind the
pickup, which was occupied by two males.
As the State Trooper knocked on the side of the pickup to
contact the occupants, it drove off and circled around several
small businesses in the area. The pickup then entered the Parks
Highway, driving south, for a short distance in the north bound
lanes, before driving over a median into the south bound lanes.
The pickup then turned onto South Hermon Road and then onto East
Whispering Woods Drive.
At the intersection with Seward Meridian Parkway, the pickup
turned completely around in the roadway and was circled by two
Alaska State Trooper marked patrol vehicles and one marked
Wasilla Police Department patrol vehicle.
As one Alaska State Trooper and one Wasilla Police Department
Officer approached the pickup on foot, the driver of the pickup
placed the vehicle in reverse and began backing directly towards
the Wasilla Police Department Officer.
Cooper and Gray fired their handguns at the vehicle, and Samel
was later pronounced dead at the scene.
Preliminary results at autopsy concluded that Samel died from
the bullet wounds.
The passenger was an adult male was treated for a non-life
threatening wound to his arm and released. The identity of the
passenger is not being released to the public as he has not been
charged with a crime.
The investigation into this event continues.
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