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Alaska man kills self with trooper's gun during struggle

The officer deployed pepper spray and a TASER before the two wrestled to the ground and the suspect obtained the gun

By Devin Kelly
Anchorage Daily News

HOMER, Alaska — Alaska State Troopers said a 24-year-old Homer man fatally shot himself with a trooper's pistol during a struggle Wednesday night.

About 10:17 p.m., a woman reported to troopers that her ex-boyfriend had assaulted her at her home on East End Road near Homer, according to a trooper dispatch posted Thursday morning. She also said she was able to leave the home in a vehicle.

A trooper responded. According to the dispatch, the suspect, identified as Aaron Michael Rael-Catholic of Homer, rammed his vehicle into the victim's vehicle at Mile 4 East End Road.

Rael-Catholic then left his vehicle, and a struggle ensued between him and the trooper, according to the dispatch.

Pepper spray and a Taser were deployed in an attempt to subdue Rael-Catholic, the dispatch said, and Rael-Catholic and the trooper "ended up wrestling on the ground."

"During this struggle, preliminary information is Rael-Catholic obtained possession of the state trooper's pistol and fatally shot himself," the dispatch said. "The specific actions of how the fatal gunshot wound occurred remain under review."

The state medical examiner's office is expected to perform an autopsy this week. The trooper was not hurt, and the female victim was taken to a hospital for evaluation.

Court records show that Rael-Catholic pleaded guilty in December to a misdemeanor assault charge in a domestic violence case. He was fined $1,000, sentenced to serve five days in jail and 40 hours of community service, and placed on probation for one year.

Two months earlier, in October, Rael-Catholic pleaded guilty to DUI, the records show.

Troopers said the Alaska Bureau of Investigation is probing the circumstances surrounding the incident, including the domestic violence call, the vehicle ramming and Rael-Catholic's death.

Authorities plan to release the name of the trooper after 72 hours.

Copyright 2014 the Anchorage Daily News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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