Crime Scene

This is a blog dedicated to the general topic of crime and crime prevention in Alaska. We will post crime-related stories and other relevant items as we come across them. The Daily News encourages community engagement and discussion of issues of crime and criminal justice. Comments are not edited and will be posted immediately. We know that stories about crime often provoke strong reactions, but we insist that you keep your comments on point, use good taste and show courtesy toward other writers. Posts that violate the Terms of Use will be deleted, and repeat offenders will be banned from adn.com. When presenting factual information, take care that it is accurate and cite and/or link to sources where appropriate.

Omnipresent police spokesman Dave Parker calling it quits - 11/12/2012 5:35 pm

Officers 'shoot to stop,' not 'shoot to kill,' police say - 7/10/2012 12:46 pm

This week in the Unalaska police blotter: We found your beer can & wallet - 6/13/2012 11:37 am

Q&A: Police shoot, kill man in Mountain View - 6/12/2012 10:33 pm

Police: Woman threw gas on roommate in arson killing - 6/9/2012 10:46 pm

Side character takes center stage in militia trial - 6/7/2012 1:37 pm

Cox gets choked up over evidence tape, returns to stand - 6/6/2012 1:32 pm

Man punches wife, shoots his SUV, goes to jail - 6/6/2012 12:37 pm

Omnipresent police spokesman Dave Parker calling it quits

(ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News)  APD Public Information Officer Lt. Dave Parker is interviewed near the scene where a body was discovered at Russian Jack Springs Park in 2010. A former detective, Parker said he's given his notice and Dec. 31 will be his last day on the job. "Sweet retirement awaits," he said.(ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News) APD Public Information Officer Lt. Dave Parker is interviewed near the scene where a body was discovered at Russian Jack Springs Park in 2010. A former detective, Parker said he's given his notice and Dec. 31 will be his last day on the job. "Sweet retirement awaits," he said.

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

Some Alaskans see this guy on TV more often than they see their own parents. His name has appeared in nearly 600 Daily News stories since 2008. (That's Palin levels of ubiquity.) One time he Tasered a bear.

Anchorage police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker said Friday he’s retiring at the end of the year. “I put in my papers today,” he said.

(BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News) Parker loads cages of Parakeets in a police car on Jan. 14. The animals were seized by Anchorage Animal Control after police arrested two Eagle River residents for hoarding about 35 dogs and other animals.(BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News) Parker loads cages of Parakeets in a police car on Jan. 14. The animals were seized by Anchorage Animal Control after police arrested two Eagle River residents for hoarding about 35 dogs and other animals.

Parker is an ordained preacher and, unlike spokespeople at many police departments, a badge-carrying cop. His last day will be Dec. 31.

If I worked at a local TV station, I’d be piecing that blooper reel together now.

(Bob Hallinen /Anchorage Daily News)  Parker, then a detective, points out drops of blood splatter on the side of the building where a death took place in the 600 block of 16th Avenue across from the Sullivan Arena in 2007.(Bob Hallinen /Anchorage Daily News) Parker, then a detective, points out drops of blood splatter on the side of the building where a death took place in the 600 block of 16th Avenue across from the Sullivan Arena in 2007.

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Officers 'shoot to stop,' not 'shoot to kill,' police say

From Casey Grove in Anchorage --

Police Chief Mark Mew, responding to ongoing criticism of police policies on the use of lethal force, said today the policy has been incorrectly described.

Critics, including online commenters, have called it a "shoot to kill" policy. That's incorrect, Mew says. It is actually more akin to a "shoot to stop" policy, he wrote in a statement issued Tuesday and pasted below.

"It is true these kinds of shots often have fatal results, but death is not the intended outcome," Mew said.

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This week in the Unalaska police blotter: We found your beer can & wallet

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage

In this latest installment of the famous Dutch Harbor police blotter, officers investigate drunken death threats, bad roommates and a suspicious cookie man. Also: Feral cats.

06/05/12. Tuesday. 11:38 a.m.
Suspicious Person/Activity – Mother found a wallet,
a beer can and an empty toilet paper roll in front of
her house when she returned from picking up her
daughter. The owner of the wallet was reunited with
her possessions.

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Q&A: Police shoot, kill man in Mountain View

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

Police offered new details today on the officer-involved shooting of Shane Tasi. Many more questions remain unanswered. Here's what department spokesman Lt. Dave Parker say police know so far:

See related story: Police identify officer who killed stick-wielding man

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Police: Woman threw gas on roommate in arson killing

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

A 25-year-old woman threw gasoline on her sleeping roommate, set him on fire and left the room in an arson killing Friday morning in East Anchorage, police say.

Gina Virgilio is accused of first-degree murder, first-degree arson and other charges in the killing of Michael Gonzales, 24. Here's how Anchorage police described the arrest:

Case: 12-26301
Subject: Arson Homicide Suspect Arrested

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Side character takes center stage in militia trial

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

In a conspiracy trial overshadowed by outspoken militia commander Schaeffer Cox, it was another militia member who took the stand today in hopes of convincing jurors the group posed no threat to government officials.

Meet Coleman Barney, a 37-year-old “major” in the Fairbanks-based volunteer army.

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Cox gets choked up over evidence tape, returns to stand

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

Militia leader Schaeffer Cox refused to answer a prosecutor’s questions for a few moments after hearing this evidence recording today in federal court.

In the clip, Cox can be heard talking with a fellow militiaman, J.R. Olson, about the addresses of Alaska State Troopers. Cox, who did not know at the time that Olson was a secret FBI informant, describes one of the troopers as “the guy we’ve been having problems with.”

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Man punches wife, shoots his SUV, goes to jail

From Casey Grove in Anchorage--

According to Alaska State Troopers, a Kalskag man shot holes in his own vehicle after punching his wife early Tuesday morning in the Southwest Alaska village.

Michael Hetherington, 26, apparently told the troopers he and the woman were drunk at a party and that he punched her "to knock her out so that she would stop behaving in a manner of which he disapproved," troopers said in a short statement.

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Surplus store owner turned militia mole testifies at conspiracy trial

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

3 p.m. update:

William "Drop Zone Bill" Fulton, the former Spenard military surplus store owner, bounty hunter and security services provider who infiltrated a Fairbanks-area militia testified today against the militia members.

Alaska Peacemakers Militia leader Schaeffer Cox and his subordinates, Lonnie Vernon and Coleman Barney, are on trial for allegedly plotting to kidnap and kill law enforcement officials.

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Does the man in this gas station stickup look familiar

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

This man look familiar? Police want to hear from you.

Here's the news release from APD.

Anchorage Police need your help in identifying this robbery suspect. On May 5, 2012, at about 2:45 a.m., a lone male entered the Holiday Station located at the 1400 block of Bragaw and, at gunpoint, demanded money from the two clerks. After obtaining an undisclosed amount of cash, the robber fled the store on foot.

The suspect is described as a medium to light skinned black male, approximately 20 to 30 years of age, 6’2” to 6’4” tall, with a thin build. He was last seen wearing a light gray Members Only style jacket, dark colored hoody, dark gray sweatpants, white and dark tennis shoes, dark glasses and a light colored mask covering his nose and mouth.

If you have information as to the identity of this robber, call Crime Stoppers at 561-STOP or submit your tip anonymously at www.anchoragecrimestoppers.com.

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Troopers exchange gunfire with Fairbanks septuagenarian

From Casey Grove in Anchorage --

A 75-year-old man living on Madcap Lane, not far from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, fired a gun late Thursday at two Alaska State Troopers, who returned fire, troopers say.

There were no injuries and no one was hit. The man is in custody.

Here is a trooper dispatch posted this morning:

Location: Fairbanks
Case number: AK12208256
Type: Assault 3rd degree X2, officer involved shooting

Text: On 5/24/12 at about 2057 hours, two uniformed troopers responded to a report of a disturbance at a Madcap Lane address in Fairbanks. When they arrived in the area, they were able to identify Stanley Pieniazek, 75, of Fairbanks, as the source of the disturbance. Pieniazek would not respond to the troopers when they called out to him.

When one of the troopers tried to contact Pieniazek inside of his camper, Pieniazek produced a handgun and pointed it at the trooper, who then withdrew from the camper. Pieniazek then shot repeatedly at the two troopers outside of his camper. The troopers returned fire with their duty weapons.

None of the involved parties was struck or injured during the incident.

After consulting with the district attorney's office, Pieniazek has been arrested and is currently being held without bail at FCC on two counts of Assault in the 3rd degree. Per department policy, the names of the involved troopers will not be released until at least three days after the incident.

Author: CJG0

--------------------------------------------------
Received Friday, May 25, 2012 1:25 AM and posted Friday, May 25, 2012 1:26 AM

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Police seek suspect in art, chain saw theft

From Casey Grove in Anchorage --

Anchorage police are asking for help in the search for the thief or thieves who stole a large eagle carving and chain saw from a wood carver's pickup.

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Cabbie arrested, charged with sexual assault

From Casey Grove in Anchorage--

Anchorage police say they arrested a cab driver Tuesday for sexually assaulting a passenger earlier this month.

Police say the Checker Cab driver, 28-year-old Paul Velasco, raped a woman on May 1.

The 42-year-old woman told detectives she’d been drinking at a house on East 6th Avenue before her family members called her a taxi, said prosecutor Brittany Dunlop. Velasco arrived and drove the woman to the Boniface Mobile Home Park in East Anchorage, not the Newell Street address where she was staying, and had sex with her in the back seat, according to the prosecutor and police.

“He took her to an area she called 'dark and secluded,’ ” Dunlop said. “She was drinking pretty heavily and she wasn’t from here. She’s from a village. And she’s since returned to the village.”

Velasco left the woman at a Tesoro gas station in the 300 block of Boniface Parkway, and the clerk there called 911 after she said she’d just been raped, police said.

Dunlop said the woman underwent a sexual assault examination, the results of which are still pending. But Velasco also admitted to having sex with the woman in a May 8 interview with police, the prosecutor said.

“His claim is it was consensual, that she traded sex for a cab ride,” Dunlop said.

Police jailed Velasco on Tuesday. He is held on $100,000 bail and scheduled to appear in court Wednesday afternoon.

The arrest comes after public outcry last year, when a cabbie was charged with sexually assaulting a passenger and another was convicted of sexually assaulting a passenger.

The Anchorage Assembly approved a new law in September 2011 that makes it possible to suspend a driver's chauffeur's license if they are charged with sexual assault.

Here is a written statement police sent to reporters this morning:

Subject: Checker Cab Driver Arrested for Sexual Assault
APD Case: 12-19852

Anchorage Police arrested a Checker Cab driver for a sexual assault that occurred earlier this month.

On May 1, 2012, police responded to the Tesoro Station at the 300 block of Boniface regarding a female who had just been dropped off and reporting to the clerk that she had been sexually assaulted by a cab driver. The victim, a 42 year old Native female, stated she had been drinking at a friend’s house at the 5900 block of East 6th Avenue. Shortly after midnight, her friend called a cab for her to take her back to the residence she was staying at located on the 200 block of Newell Street. Instead of taking the victim to her residence, the cab driver drove to the Boniface trailer court where the alleged sexual assault occurred. The cab driver then drove her to the Tesoro Station where he dropped her off.

The driver, Paul Velasco, was arrested on May 22nd and has been charged with first degree sexual assault. He was lodged into the Anchorage Jail with his bail set at $100,000. Velasco is scheduled to be arraigned at 2:30 p.m. today at the Anchorage Jail Court.

Special Victim Unit Detectives appreciate the cooperation of the owners of Checker Cab throughout this investigation.

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Nugent: Ignorance of ignorant hunting law still no excuse

From Casey Grove in Anchorage--

Rock star and gun rights activist Ted Nugent, who pleaded guilty this week to a misdemeanor federal count of transporting an illegally shot black bear in 2009, issued a statement to reporters Wednesday apologizing for his actions and blasting the hunting regulation he violated.

Nugent broke a Southeast Alaska law adopted in 2004 that says that if an arrow touches a black bear, the bear is considered "taken." Nugent shot and killed a second bear, exceeding his bag limit. Transporting the illegal bear amounted to a federal offense, prosecutors said.

Investigators were alerted to Nugent's crime after he aired footage of the bear-baiting hunt on his show "Spirit of the Wild."

Admitting to the offense Tuesday, Nugent agreed to pay a $10,000 fine, $600 for the illegal bear, and record a public service announcement to air on his show. He is also banned from hunting in Alaska or any U.S. Forest Service lands for two years.

In a Thursday radio interview with conservative talk show host Glenn Beck, Nugent again ripped the law and claimed to be the first person charged under it.

Here is Nugent's statement, sent to reporters Wednesday:

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Man on probation for drugs makes bomb threat to avoid urine analysis. Twice.

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

A jury today convicted a man of calling in fake bomb threats to a downtown probation office in order avoid a surprise urine test, police say.

The first phony threat emptied the probations office at 800 A Street on Nov. 22, police say. Bryant K. Brown, 44, was on probation on a drug charge when he learned of the urine analysis and made the call.

The drug test was rescheduled for the next day. Brown called in a bomb threat that day too, police say.

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Man convicted of manslaughter in puzzling Port Protection death

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

A jury found a man from tiny Port Protection guilty of manslaughter Friday in a case that began when troopers came upon the 39-year-old towing a body in a boat.

Ronald O'Neil was originally indicted Aug. 18 on charges of second-degree murder and tampering with evidence in the death of Tracy G. Simpson, 54.

The pair had been drinking brandy at O'Neil's float house before the killing, Ketchikan District Attorney Stephen West said today. A clear motive for the attack was never determined, West said.

The cause of death: Blunt force trauma to the head.

“We think he may have used, at least, his right hand because his right hand was badly swollen," West said.

O'Neil was found not guilty of the murder and tampering charges, West said.

The jury convicted O'Neil of the lesser manslaughter charge following a 10-day trial in Craig, according to troopers. The judge dismissed an additional charge of drunken driving.

The investigation began Aug. 7 when troopers learned of a possible death at Port Protection. The community of fewer than 100 people sits at the northern tip of Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska.

Troopers arrived to find O'Neil operating a skiff, towing a second skiff that carried Simpson's body.

"O'Neil was subsequently detained and made a statement similar to 'he must have killed' Simpson," Trooper Grant Miller wrote in court papers.

It was not immediately clear why the jury convicted O'Neil, who is now 40, of manslaughter rather than the more severe murder charge. His lawyers could not be reached for comment this morning.

O'Neil is being held at the Craig jail, West said. Sentencing is planned for July.

Related:

-- Murder trial of Port Protection man begins with jury selection (Associated Press).

Read the latest trooper report on the case, posted late last night, here:


Port Protection - Prince of Wales Island
Manslaughter Conviction
On 4-20-12, a Craig jury found Ronald L. O'Neil, age 39, of Port Protection, guilty of Manslaughter for the death of Tracy G. Simpson, age 54, of Port Protection, after a 10 day long trial in Craig, Alaska. On 8/18/11 a Grand Jury in Ketchikan indicted Ronald L. O'Neil for Murder in the Second Degree, Tampering with Physical Evidence, and DUI; however, he was found not guilty in those charges. Sentencing is scheduled for 7-24-12.
This conviction stems from the investigation of the Alaska State Troopers back in 8/7/11 when they traveled to Port Protection after receiving a report of a possible death on a float house near Port Protection at the North end of Prince of Wales Island. During the early morning hours of 8/8/11, Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Wildlife Troopers from Klawock Post arrived in Port Protection and contacted
Ronald L. O'Neil as he was operating a skiff, which was towing a second skiff. Found in the second skiff was the body of an adult male who was later identified as Tracy G. Simpson. Investigation revealed that O'Neil was under the influence and was taken into custody for DUI, Murder in the 2nd Degree, and Tampering with Physical Evidence.
Investigators from the Alaska Bureau of Investigation-Major Crimes Unit in Anchorage responded to conduct an investigation. O'Neil was incarcerated at the Ketchikan Correctional Center. Simpson's body was transported to the State Medical Examiner's for an autopsy. Next of Kin
was notified.

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This truck and SUV may have been used in Kodiak killings, FBI says

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

The FBI is looking for people who saw this 2002 Dodge Ram and 2001 Honda CRV around the time of a double homicide April 12 in Kodiak.The FBI is looking for people who saw this 2002 Dodge Ram and 2001 Honda CRV around the time of a double homicide April 12 in Kodiak.

The FBI today released pictures of a Dodge pickup and a Honda SUV that investigators believe may have been used in connection with the April 12 killing of two men at a Coast Guard station in Kodiak.

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Police responding to reports of 2 people shot in Midtown

Scene of a shooting on Fireweed Lane earlier tonight. (Casey Grove/ADN)Scene of a shooting on Fireweed Lane earlier tonight. (Casey Grove/ADN)

From Casey Grove and Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

One person is dead and another taken to the hospital after a shooting at a garage on Fireweed Lane, police said.

A suspect - described as a white male in jeans and a t-shirt, possibly with a European accent and possibly a backpack - walked away and is currently at large, police said.

The shooting happened at R&R Garage, 514 W. Fireweed Lane, about 6 p.m.

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(UPDATED) Bouncer, bar charged in attack on intoxicated man

Johnny Brown, a sales rep for Pepsi, after an alleged beating by Rumrunners bouncers. Police have charged one of the bouncers and the corporation that owns the business with assault and other charges. Photos courtesy of Johnny Brown.Johnny Brown, a sales rep for Pepsi, after an alleged beating by Rumrunners bouncers. Police have charged one of the bouncers and the corporation that owns the business with assault and other charges. Photos courtesy of Johnny Brown.

From Kyle Hopkin in Anchorage --

Police have taken the unusual step of charging not only a bouncer, but the company that owns a bar, in the October beating of an intoxicated man at Rumrunners in Anchorage.

Police are still investigating and believe others may have been assaulted by Rumrunners bouncers, a spokesman said.

6 p.m. UPDATE:

“If (my friend) wouldn’t have called the cops, who knows what would have happened," said Johnny Brown, the 26-year-old Pepsi sales rep who police say was attacked at the bar.

Brown said he was drunk that night. Too intoxicated to drive but not "blackout drunk." He had been arguing with a woman in the bar and preparing to leave with his friend when Lampkin, the bouncer, grabbed him, Brown said.

"He put his arm around my neck and choked me to the point where I was almost unconscious," Brown said.

Brown said he was dragged outside, where he began to fight with the bouncer. He connected with a punch, police say.

“Around seven security guards jumped on top of me and that’s when they handcuffed me and brought me back inside," Brown said.

With his wrists cuffed behind his back, Brown says he was brought inside a downstairs office. He sat in a chair. Lampkin and another bouncer began to punch him in the face, Brown said.

"They wouldn't stop assaulting me until I agreed not to press charges," he said.

Brown says he suffered multiple facial fractures, two skull fractures and a broken orbital bone. A doctor had remove tissue from his nasal cavity, he said. Eight stitches closed his wounds, he said.

Brown said he was gratified to see the criminal charges. “They just basically think they can do whatever they want because they’re security of a bar," he said.

3:15 p.m. UPDATE:

Rumrunners owners AB&M Enterprises denies the assault and evidence tampering charges, according to a statement issued to reporters today.

"These charges, personal in nature, represent the state's attempt to enlarge corporate liability in a bizarre and unprecedented manner," the company said.

NOON UPDATE:

Read the indictment here.

The man beaten by a bouncer or bouncers was an unruly patron, said Lt. Dave Parker, a police spokesman. Rumrunners employees told police the man took a swing at one of the men working security, he said.

The man was cuffed, taken downstairs and attacked, Parker said. During the investigation, police began to suspect that this was not the only time a bouncer roughed up a patron, he said.

“This is not the Wild West. This is not 1956 in Las Vegas, Nevada," Parker said. "This is Anchorage, Alaska, 2012, and if this behavior is tolerated, it’s lawlessness."

Check back soon for details. Meantime, here's the announcement Anchorage police sent today to reporters:

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Arctic Man blotter: Armed pot dealers, slashed tires, drunken snowmachining

A scene from the 2007 Arctic Man. (AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Eric Engman)A scene from the 2007 Arctic Man. (AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Eric Engman)

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

Arctic Man, that annual fusion of speeding snowmachines and downhill skiing, launched this weekend in the Hoodoo Mountains. The gathering transforms the area into one of Alaska's biggest cities and biggest parties. a celebration of high-octane outdoor sports, it can also, at times, resemble a beer-fueled circus.

Troopers warned they planned to attend in force. Sure enough, here's a roundup of Arctic Man-related arrests from the past few days, according to trooper logs:


Location: Arctic Man
MICS 4th Degree (2X), MIW 2nd Degree, MIW 5th Degree
On 4/13/12, at approximately 1953 hours, Alaska State Troopers with the Bureau of Highway Patrol South-Central Team contacted occupants of a black Mazda sedan at the Arctic Man event near Paxson. With the assistance AST K-9 "Chevron", investigation revealed both the driver, Jonathan C. Carpenter, age 22 of Delta, and passenger Isaiah O. Torres, age 21 of Delta possessed marijuana and were engaged in selling marijuana at the event. Carpenter was also found to be in possession a semi-auto handgun. Carpenter was arrested for MICS 4th Degree, MIW 2nd Degree, and MIW 5th Degree. Torres was arrested for MICS 4th Degree. Both were transported and held with no bail till arraignments at the Glennallen State Trooper Post.

***

Location: Arctic Man
Warrant Arrest
On 04/14/2012, at approximately 2450 hours, Alaska State Troopers contacted Michael James Hansen, age 19, of Fairbanks at an Arctic Man campsite, near Paxson. Investigation revealed Hansen had an outstanding warrant for $250.00 for failure to appear on the original charges of Criminal Trespass and Minor Consuming. Hansen was arrested, held, and later bailed out at the Alaska State Trooper Arctic Man Command Post.

***

Location: Arctic Man
Criminal Mischief
On 4/13/12 at 1100 hrs AST received a report of vandalism at the 700 block of Arctic Man. Somebody slashed the tire of a GMC truck during the early morning hours of 4/13/12. There were no suspect(s) and the damage is estimated at $350. Case closed.

***

Location: Arctic Man Event Site
DUI and Refusal
On 4-13-12 at approximately 0320 hours, Alaska State Troopers contacted the driver of a 2008 Polaris Razor 800 at Arctic Man. The driver of the Razor was identified as Gregory A. M. Eckert, 31 YOA, of Fairbanks. Investigation revealed Eckert was operating the Razor while he was intoxicated. Eckert was arrested for DUI and transported to the Datamaster where he refused to provide a sample of his breath into the Datamaster. Eckert was subsequently charged with Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Test. Eckert was released on $1,500.00 bail.

***

Location: Arctic Man Event Site
DUI
On 4/13/2012 at approximately 0318 hours, the Alaska State Troopers contacted a vehicle at the Arctic Man Event Site. Troopers contacted the driver, 22 year old Zachary E. Erickson of Delta Junction.
Investigation revealed Erickson was intoxicated. Erickson was arrested for DUI and was released on a $500.00 bail.

***

Location: Summit Lake, AK
DUI/MVC-I
On 04-12-12, at 2130 hours, The Alaska State Troopers responded to a reported snow machine crash in the Arctic Man event parking area and the driver was injured. Investigation revealed Eric W. Visser (25 YOA of North Pole) was driving a 2007 Arctic Cat and collided into a snow berm. Visser's injuries (not life threatening) required transport
from Arctic Man for medical intervention. Visser was transported to
Delta Junction Medical Clinic treated and released. During the investigation Troopers determined Visser was impaired by alcohol but did not arrest him due to his injuries. Charges will be forwarded against Visser for DUI.

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