Alaska State Troopers used an armored tactical response vehicle last Wednesday to persuade a Homer man to surrender after troopers said he fired a .44-caliber revolver when troopers announced themselves outside his house on Char Court.
Timothy A. Magee, 39, was arraigned last Thursday on two counts of third-degree assault, a felony, for allegedly causing fear of injury to Wildlife Trooper Trent Chwialkowski and Trooper David Chaffin. He also was charged with fourth-degree misconduct involving weapons for allegedly being drunk while shooting a weapon.
The Special Emergency Response Team responded to the scene with a BearCat armored tactical vehicle, one of three $280,000 trucks purchased last March. This was the first use of a BearCat in response to a potentially dangerous incident on the Kenai Peninsula.
No weapons were fired by troopers and no one was hurt in the incident, including a woman at the home at the time, said Lt. Dane Gilmore, deputy commander for E Detachment.
“By being able to use this piece of equipment, we were able to resolve the situation with no use of force by the responding troopers. That’s the goal,” Gilmore said.
At 7:06 p.m. June 19, troopers went to the neighborhood on the Cook Inlet side of the Sterling Highway opposite Diamond Ridge Road after neighbors reported hearing what sounded like an argument and gunshots.
Chaffin and Chwialkowski approached a home on Char Court known to be the site of disturbances in the past and identified themselves, Chaffin wrote in a criminal complaint filed in Homer Court. Sgt. Jeremy Stone, head of the Anchor Point Trooper Post, declined to discuss the nature of disturbances at that house. The people in that house were not involved with last week’s incident.
A man replied from an area near the next home down the road about 200 feet away, saying “Come on down here and show me what you’ve got,” Chaffin wrote in a criminal complaint. Chaffin wrote that the man sounded irate and drunk. The man shouted “I’ll blow your ---ing head off” and said something about a .44, Chaffin wrote.
A few minutes later, troopers heard several large-caliber gunshots coming from the area where they had heard the man. The troopers set up a perimeter around the house.
Troopers called the SERT officers about 8:15 p.m., and the team arrived with the BearCat about an hour later, Gilmore said. More shots were fired before the armored truck arrived, but gunfire stopped after that, Gilmore said. Stone did not know the exact number of shots fired. A crisis negotiation officer contacted the suspect by telephone, and he identified himself as Magee.
The BearCat has a public address system, but no mounted weapons, Gilmore said. There are gun ports in the armored truck. Weighing 20,000 pounds and mounted on a Ford 550 truck chassis, the BearCat also has a ram plate on the front and can push down doors and move cars or other obstacles. The BearCat can be driven on highways and does not need a trailer.
“The idea was to make it clear we are the police, we’ve got this thing,” Gilmore said of the BearCat. “The idea with the presence of the vehicle is they can offer surrender.”
Neighbors got away to safety and weren’t endangered by the shooting, Gilmore said. No one was threatened on the Diamond Creek trail to the south, a gravel road and hiking trail that leads to the beach at Diamond Creek.
Chaffin wrote that after Magee surrendered, he interviewed him. Magee was visibly intoxicated, Chaffin wrote, and admitted drinking. A preliminary breath test showed a breath-alcohol level of .289, Chaffin wrote, more than three times the legal limit for driving under the influence.
Magee said he did not know troopers were there, Chaffin wrote in the criminal complaint. Magee said he shot the guns because of an ongoing problem with his neighbors, Chaffin wrote.
Magee was arraigned at the Homer Courthouse last Thursday before Judge Margaret Murphy. He pleaded not guilty and was released on $2,500 cash-only bail, ordered not to leave Alaska, not to use or possess firearms, and not to contact the troopers involved.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.