FAIRBANKS—Fairbanks police killed a 28-year-old man who had reportedly conducted an armed robbery and a carjacking Tuesday before leading police on a pursuit to the Fox area and eventually leaving the vehicle and pointing a handgun at officers.
Four Fairbanks police officers fired at the man, later identified by police as Garrett James Ebenal, according to a late Tuesday news release from the Police Department.
Ebenal died at the scene. No officers were injured in the shooting, according to Police Department spokeswoman Yumi McCulloch.
The news release detailed a series of events involving Ebenal that began Saturday with a report of a man stealing a .45-caliber handgun from the Walmart store. The man had reportedly asked to look at the handgun, which had had its firing pin removed, and then put it in his pocket and left the store.
Ebenal then tried to steal an occupied vehicle at gunpoint, using the weapon taken from the store. The driver refused to give up the vehicle, so the man fled the scene, according to police.
At about 3 p.m. Tuesday police received a report of a successful carjacking on College Road. A woman reported that she was ordered out of her car at gunpoint and that the man drove away with the vehicle. Officers responded but couldn’t locate the vehicle.
At about 3:30 p.m. police received a report of an armed robbery not far from the carjacking location.
The suspect smashed display cases with a gun, stole the contents, then ordered the employee to the ground at gunpoint and fled,” the news release reads.
The description of the suspect was similar to that of the carjacking suspect, police stated.
A Fairbanks police detective saw the stolen vehicle a few minutes later northbound on the Steese Highway. Officers pursed the vehicle up the Elliott Highway to Hilltop Truck Stop in whiteout conditions, according to the news release.
“At Hilltop, the suspect turned around to head back into Fairbanks,” the news release reads. “FPD Officers and Alaska State Troopers began stopping traffic northbound on the Elliott Highway and deployed spike strips to prevent the suspect from returning to Fairbanks.”
Shortly before 4 p.m., according to police, the suspect’s vehicle went off the road at Mile 3 of the Elliott Highway.
“The suspect exited the vehicle, came towards the officers with a handgun and pointed it at them,” the news release states. “The four FPD officers fired. Officers provided first aid until the Steese Volunteer Fire Department ambulance arrived.”
Traffic on the Elliott Highway was closed between the Fox weigh station and Hilltop Restaurant because of the shooting.
Road conditions were poor Tuesday afternoon because of high winds and blowing snow. Alaska State Troopers were assisting police with traffic control as the crime scene was processed, according to trooper Lt. Brian Wassmann.
Ebenal’s next of kin have been notified, according to police.
The officers involved have been put on paid administrative leave for a minimum of three working days, as is standard policy. Names of the officers involved will be released after 72 hours, according to the news release.
Contact Editor Rod Boyce at 459-7585. Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7582.