Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 3:21 PM on Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Highway shooter suicidal

Anchor Point woman now in Anchorage jail on multiple charges

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer

An Anchorage judge this week appointed a public defender for an Anchor Point woman charged with attempted first-degree murder for allegedly shooting at Alaska Wildlife Trooper Trent Chwialkowski on the Sterling Highway.

Tonee M. Walker, 58, was arrested last Thursday following her release from Alaska Native Hospital in Anchorage, and taken to the Anchorage Jail, where she remains. Walker was arraigned on Saturday. No bail amount has yet been set and Walker has not yet been indicted by a grand jury or entered a plea.

Walker also faces four felony counts of third-degree assault for allegedly driving at or hitting other cars with drivers and passengers, including Chwialkowski. Walker also was charged with reckless driving, a misdemeanor.

Walker allegedly drove recklessly in her yellow Nissan XTR on Sunday, July 15, rear-ending one car and forcing other drivers off the road.

She shot at Chwialkowski, troopers allege, when he tried to stop her. Chwialkowski shot back, hitting Walker in the arm and torso.

She was medevaced to Alaska Native Hospital for her injuries. No one else was injured.

In a note found in Walker's car, she allegedly intended to commit suicide by having the troopers shoot at her, writing that she wanted "to go out in a blaze."

Trooper investigators interviewed Walker on July 17 at Alaska Native Hospital. She said she was depressed at the loss of family members and wanted to commit suicide or have a trooper kill her if she couldn't, troopers alleged in the complaint. She said she planned to drive recklessly so troopers would be called and show the gun so they would shoot her. Walker said she did not remember shooting at Chwialkowski, troopers said in a criminal complain.

The medical response and investigation shut down the Sterling Highway near Mile 147 for about four hours July 14, stranding tourists and residents in both directions and fishermen driving north for a commercial fishing opening out of Kenai.

"I am not a happy camper," said one Wyoming tourist trying to get to Homer and stopped the entire time of the road block.

According to a criminal complaint by Trooper Mark Pearson and filed in Homer Court, at about 5:20 p.m. July 15, troopers received numerous "report every dangerous driver immediately" calls of a woman driving a yellow Nissan XTR near Mile 153 Sterling Highway in the Anchor Point area. Walker, later identified as the driver and only person in the car, was charged with assaulting Randy and Nancy Boeshart of Kasilof after Walker allegedly rear ended their vehicle.

"All of a sudden, bam, it hit the back of our car," Randy Boeshart told the Homer News earlier. "I didn't even see her in the rear view mirror."

The complaint also said that Walker turned around and drove south in the northbound lane, forcing cars to pull off the road. Walker also allegedly shot at other cars, Pearson wrote in his complaint. When Chwialkowski caught up with Walker near Stariski Creek about 6:15 p.m., she stopped and allegedly shot at him, hitting her own car and Chwialkowski's trooper patrol truck on the driver's side front grille. Chwialkowski bailed out of his truck, shot back, and hit her in the arm and torso.

Walker drove on, and then stopped near Mile 147. Anchor Point and Soldotna Troopers, Homer Police and members of the Southcentral emergency response team surrounded the Nissan. Walker gave up after about 30 minutes and was found with gunshot injuries. Medics treated Walker and took her to South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, where she was later transported to Alaska Native Hospital. The highway was closed until about 11:45 p.m. Sunday, with more than 200 vehicles in both directions backed up. Many travelers in motorhomes also camped in turnouts along the road. Some drivers in four-wheel drive cars got around the road block on a dirt trail by the road.

When Walker gave herself up, troopers allege a loaded .44 caliber revolver fell out of the Nissan. Troopers also smelled a strong odor of alcohol on Walker and in the car. They found a case of beer in the front seat and an alleged suicide note in the car.

Walker does not have a criminal history, according to a search of online Alaska court records.

Attempted first-degree murder is an unclassified felony. If convicted, Walker faces a jail sentence of between five and 99 years. The Kenai Grand Jury usually meets every Friday, but because grand jury proceedings are confidential, it is not known if it will consider Walker's felony charges. A pre-indictment hearing was scheduled earlier this week but not held.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.