Fairbanks officers who killed suspect on Elliott Highway named
Fairbanks police have named the four officers who fatally shot a man Tuesday afternoon on the Elliott Highway, after reports that he had recently been involved in two armed carjackings and an armed robbery.
Fairbanks police spokeswoman Yumi McCulloch identified the deceased in a statement late Tuesday as Garrett James Ebenal, 28. His next of kin have been notified.
The four officers who fired on Ebenal, who were placed on administrative leave for 72 hours after the shooting, include Lt. Ron Dupee as well as Officers Dennis Benn, Lane Bonham and Tyler Larimer. Dupee and Benn have been with the force for 13 and 11 years respectively, while Bonham and Larimer have served with FPD for two years.
Police began looking for Ebenal after an 8 p.m. call Saturday to the local Walmart store, after a man “asked to see a .45-caliber gun then stuffed it into his sweatshirt and fled.”
“The suspect ran through the parking lot and attempted to carjack a driver at gunpoint,” police wrote. “The driver refused to give up the vehicle and the suspect fled the scene. It was reported that the gun did not have a firing pin and had a trigger lock on it.”
On Tuesday, police had received a $20,000 arrest warrant for the suspect in that incident on charges of robbery, assault, theft and weapons misconduct.
The sequence of events which led to Ebenal’s death began at about 3 p.m. Tuesday, when police were informed of an armed carjacking on the 100 block of College Road.
“A female reported that the suspect ordered her out of her vehicle at gunpoint, took the vehicle
and fled,” police wrote. “FPD Officers and Detectives responded to the area in search of the vehicle. FPD SWAT was conducting scheduled training and was also able to respond.”
About half an hour later, a report of an armed robbery came in from the same area.
“The suspect smashed display cases with a gun, stole the contents, then ordered the employee to the ground at gunpoint and fled,” police wrote. “The description of the suspect was similar to the carjacking at 19 College Road.”
Minutes after that report, at 3:38 p.m., a Fairbanks police detective spotted the vehicle stolen Tuesday headed north out of town on the Steese Highway.
“Officers pursued the vehicle up the Elliott Highway to Hilltop Truck Stop through whiteout conditions,” police wrote. “At Hilltop, the suspect turned around to head back into Fairbanks. 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.”
Due to the risks involved in the pursuit, police requested a Steese Volunteer Fire Department ambulance be placed on standby in the area.
“At 3:55 pm, the suspect went off the road at Mile 3 to avoid a semi-truck that was stopped in the roadway,” police wrote. “The suspect exited the vehicle, came towards the officers with a handgun and pointed it at them. The four FPD officers fired.”
Officers provided first aid until the Steese ambulance arrived, but Ebenal – a convicted felon identified as the suspect in all of the previous crimes, wanted on a no-bail probation warrant issued last month – died at the scene.
“A handgun was recovered at the scene and was identified as the gun stolen from Walmart,” police wrote. “The trigger lock had been removed and the magazine was loaded.”
Alaska State Troopers said in a dispatch at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday that the highway had been closed due to "police activity" near Mile 3 of the highway. The highway had reopened by 7:30 p.m., according to McCulloch.
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