Pilot Station assault suspect dies in firefight with troopers
A Pilot Station man who had allegedly assaulted a woman earlier this week was killed Thursday night during a firefight with Alaska State Troopers, who had tried to apprehend him near the Western Alaska village.
The search and standoff which led to 27-year-old suspect Dwight Heckman’s death began at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to an online dispatch, when troopers in St. Mary’s were informed that he “had assaulted an adult female by striking her and strangling her at a local residence.”
“Following the initial assault on the female, the suspect dragged the victim out into the street where he fired multiple rounds from a handgun in close proximity to her before fleeing the area on a snowmachine,” troopers wrote.
The woman safely returned to her family, as troopers were called to the Yukon River community. Weather prevented their arrival until Thursday, when a trooper tried to speak with Heckman at his home shortly after noon.
“The suspect pulled out a handgun and pointed it in the direction of the trooper as the trooper took cover,” troopers wrote. “The suspect then fled in to the woods behind his residence. At about [2:30 p.m.] the suspect was again spotted in Pilot Station by the trooper. The suspect fired multiple rounds and then fled back into the woods.”
Members of AST’s Special Emergency Reaction Team were called in from Southcentral Alaska, with additional troopers reaching Pilot Station starting at about 5 p.m. Troopers and village police officers were able to maintain a perimeter around Heckman’s position in the woods.
“At approximately [7:30 p.m.], SERT attempted to contact the suspect and there was an exchange of gunfire,” troopers wrote. “The suspect was found deceased by SERT personnel at approximately [8:20 p.m.]”
No other injuries were reported in the exchange, troopers said. Heckman’s next of kin have been notified.
The Alaska Bureau of Investigation will respond as soon as weather permits Friday to investigate the trooper-involved shooting, according to the dispatch. After that investigation is complete, it will be reviewed by the state Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals.
Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said Friday that she couldn't comment on whether troopers had killed Heckman or he had taken his own life, pending ABI members' arrival in Pilot Station.
The troopers involved in the shooting have been placed on a standard 72-hour administrative leave.
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