Troopers Release Identities of Officers Involved in Richardson Highway Gunfire Exchange


59-year-old Mark Emery Heinz. Image-State of Alaska
59-year-old Mark Emery Heinz. Image-State of Alaska

Alaska State Troopers, on Tuesday released the identities of the troopers who returned fire on a fleeing motorist who opened fire on them on Friday near the Tok Cut-Off on the RichardsonHighway. Those troopers were identified as Trooper Jason Somerville, a five-year veteran and Trooper Abraham Garcia, a 12-year veteran, both of the Glennallen Post.

It was on Friday morning at 9:31 am that troopers were notified of a REDDI report concerning a vehicle that had nearly caused a collision near the intersection of Gakona Lodge Road and E. Tok Cut-Off Highway. Nine minutes later troopers were told that the suspect was traveling toward the Richardson Highway by a person at the Gakona Lodge.

At just after 10 am, the suspect driver, later identified as 59-year-old Mark Emery Heinz, was located two miles east of the Tok Cut-Off and a traffic stop was attempted but Heinz sped away. Troopers took up pursuit and during the chase, Heinz opened fire on the officers near mile 157. Troopers returned fire. No one was injured in the exchange.

Eight miles down the highway, at mile 149, Heinz stopped, abandoned his vehicle and fled into the woods.

“Members of the Southcentral, Northern, and Southern Special Emergency Reaction Teams (SERT) responded, along with Helo-3, members of the Alaska Bureau of Investigation (ABI), and ‘B’ and ‘D’ Detachments’ General Investigation Units” responded to the incident, AST reported. Troopers also received operational and technical assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Parks Service, and Village Public Safety Officer Program.

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The Richardson Highway was subsequently closed down between mile 134 and 165 and motorists were advised to not pick up hitchhikers. 

The following day at approximately 1:30 pm, troopers were informed that a person fitting the suspect’s description was seen at mile 131 of the highway. Authorities responded and Heinz was located and taken into custody without incident. The highway was re-opened and Heinz was taken to a medical facility and medically cleared.

Troopers transported Heinz to Palmer and remanded at the Mat-Su Pretrial Facility.

On Tuesday afternoon he was arraigned in Palmer court on charges of Attempted Murder-Intent, three counts of Assault III, and Misconduct Involving Weapons IV.

Heinz remains in custody as the investigation continues.