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Troopers fatally shoot driver in Parks Highway chase near Healy

An Alaska State Trooper fatally shot an armed man early Monday morning outside a motel in Tok after the man reportedly tried to break into one of the rooms.
Alaska Department of Public Safety
Alaska State Troopers fatally shot the driver of a pickup fleeing arrest in a chase up the Parks Highway near Healy.

No other injuries reported; highway closed for 3 hours

Editor's note: This story has been updated.
Alaska State Troopers fatally shot an armed suspect near Healy Wednesday after a high-speed chase up the Parks Highway. It was the second Trooper-involved fatal shooting in the Interior this week.

Trooper spokesperson Austin McDaniel on Thursday identified the driver of a pickup that fled law enforcement officers as 45-year-old Michael Grimes, of Fairbanks.

McDaniel says the chase began a little after 1 p.m. Wednesday, when officers tried to stop a northbound pickup Grimes was driving.

“Troopers were attempting to stop that vehicle, because the driver was connected to an active and ongoing felony-level investigation,” he said.

Grimes refused and fired multiple shots at the pursuing officers. McDaniel says Troopers fired back out of concern over the threat the driver posed to the public.

“Troopers returned fire, due to that extreme public safety risk that Grimes had, driving at high speeds, fleeing from law enforcement, as well as discharging his weapon toward law enforcement,” he said.

The chase ended when officers laid spike strips on the highway and rammed the pickup to a halt.

“Once they stopped the vehicle, there was an additional exchange of gunfire between the law-enforcement officers that were involved in the pursuit, as well as the subject,” he said.

The report says Grimes was declared dead at the scene. But a passenger in the pickup was not injured. The report identified her as 42-year-old Melody Perry, of North Pole. Perry was charged with weapons misconduct and is now being held at Fairbanks Correctional Center.

None of the law enforcement officers involved in the chase reported injuries. McDaniel said that included multiple Alaska State Troopers and task force officers from other agencies assigned to the Fairbanks Area Narcotics Team.

Troopers intermittently stopped traffic on the Parks around Healy, between mileposts 250 to 257, for about 3-and-a-half hours during the chase and afterward to investigate the scene and clear wreckage.

Troopers say Grimes’s body was sent to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Anchorage for an autopsy.

The dispatch report says the Troopers who fired their weapons were placed on administrative leave, as required by state Department of Public Safety policy. Their names will be released on Saturday, 72 hours after the shooting.

The Alaska Bureau of Investigation will look in to the shooting, as is also required by department policy. The findings will then be independently reviewed by the Alaska Office of Special Prosecutions, a routine requirement for officer-involved shootings.

The incident follows a Trooper shooting of an armed man in Tok on Monday. Troopers say 21-year-old Timothy Thomas, of Northway, was shot after he tried to break into a room at the Three Bears Motel and brandished an assault-style rifle.

That shooting also is under investigation. The Alaska Bureau of Investigation today identified the officer who shot Thomas as Trooper Timothy Rosario, who’s been with the agency for three years.

Tim Ellis has been working as a KUAC reporter/producer since 2010. He has more than 30 years experience in broadcast, print and online journalism.