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Family of Man Shot by State Trooper Seeks Answers

Timothy Thomas Jr.
Thomas family
Timothy Thomas Jr.

(This story has been revised to reflect that Trooper Rosario was not at a March 2020 incident in which Timothy Thomas’ father committed suicide during an armed standoff with law enforcement)
(Fairbanks. Ak.) The circumstances surrounding the October 30th fatal shooting of an armed man by an Alaska State Trooper in Tok remain unclear. Troopers say twenty-one-year-old Timothy Thomas Jr of Northway was shot by Trooper Timothy Rosario, after Thomas tried to break into a room at the Three Bears Motel and brandished an assault-style rifle. The case remains under investigation, and a member of Thomas’s family is sharing information and asking questions.

Timothy Thomas Jr’s cousin, Belinda Northway Thomas says he and Trooper Rosario had a history, that included 2 prior arrests. According to Troopers, Timothy Thomas Sr. was a suspect in a felony domestic violence case and committed suicide during an armed standoff with law enforcement.

Northway Thomas says her cousin had recently moved to Anchorage but was back in Tok at the end of October.

“He was out trying to create a life for himself and the question for us is what was he doing back here?”

She says during the visit he picked up an AK-47 rifle he’d purchased earlier and stored at a friend’s home.

“And so he picked it up….poor choice possibly. We do know he was under the influence of alcohol and may have been under the influence of drugs. We don’t know. We haven’t received the toxicology. And then he didn’t have a ride, so he walked from where he picked up the gun back to the motel.”

Northway Thoams remembers her cousin as kindhearted and respectful but says she can’t predict what his behavior could have been under the influence. She says Thomas walked to the room he’d purchased at the 3 Bears Motel, but couldn’t get in.

“Timothy knocked on the door of his room, but the four cousins of his who were staying there, they were sleeping, or they chose not to open the door.”

A Trooper dispatch says an October 30th 9-1-1 call at 3:25 AM was made from someone in the motel room saying a man was trying to break in. Trooper Rosario responded and shot Thomas Jr. when he brandished the assault rifle. Northway Thomas says her cousin was shot 3 times. She says the third shot to the back of the head was the fatal shot.

Thomas says the family has requested any audio or video recorded by Troopers during the incident. Trooper communications director Austin McDaniel says there are mobile audio and video recordings, and the Department of Public Safety is working through the process of making them available. He did not provide any additional comment on the case as investigation of the shooting is ongoing. Northway Thomas organized a recent demonstration in Tok, during which attendees questioned Trooper’s use of deadly force and called for reform, but she says she understands the challenges and risks Troopers face.

“They put their lives on the line every day for us. Every hour sometimes. And we continue to keep as open minded as we can even though our hearts are shattered, that the facts will fill in the blanks, but until then we still have to make sure they hear our voice that we want to be their partner in understanding what happened.”

Timothy Thomas Jr was laid to rest earlier this month in his home village of Northway. ###