An Alaska State Troopers encounter last week with two armed men in Anchor Point ended peacefully when both suspects surrendered their weapons. Troopers David Chaffin and Luke Kumfer both carried AR-15 semiautomatic military-style assault rifles during the incident. Chaffin held his fire when troopers said one suspect, Richard Strassburg, 46, pulled a black handgun from behind his back and moved it in front of his body. Chaffin pointed his gun at Strassburg, said trooper spokesperson Megan Peters. Fortunately, Strassburg dropped the gun.
“The goal during any trooper contact is for everyone to walk away from a situation alive and well,” Peters said.
Strassburg and Donovan Lee, 39, were charged with two counts each of third-degree assault for putting the troopers in fear of serious injury, a felony. Both were arrested and Lee remains in jail.
According to a criminal complaint and a trooper press release, at about 11:30 a.m. Nov. 6, Chaffin and Kumfer went to Louis Huber Avenue in Anchor Point for a report of a disturbance with shots fired at a home.
As troopers walked up the driveway, they could hear two men arguing. Chaffin identified himself and Kumfer as troopers and ordered both to get on the ground. Chaffin said he could see each man had a silver handgun in their right hands.
Lee turned and started running into the woods and had to be ordered several times to drop his gun. Lee threw the gun behind him. Strassburg dropped the silver handgun, but then put his right hand behind his back.
Chaffin ordered him several times to show his hand, but he did not comply, Chaffin said. Eventually Strassburg moved his right hand from behind his back and held a black handgun. Strassburg moved the gun in front of his body and then dropped it, Chaffin wrote in the complaint.
Until Strassburg dropped both weapons, Chaffin feared that he and Kumfer might be shot, Peters said.
Troopers go through scenario-based training that includes armed encounters, Peters said. Troopers train to stop a threat, and if they believe it necessary to fire weapons, as is the practice with most law enforcement agencies in the United States, they aim at the center mass of an assailant — the chest and upper torso.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.