Alaska State Troopers say a Homer man is dead after a domestic-violence call turned into a struggle, which ended with the man turning a responding trooper’s gun on himself.
Troopers say just after 8 p.m. Wednesday they responded to a report of domestic violence on East End Road in Homer. A woman told dispatchers she was being attacked by her ex-boyfriend at her home.
The woman was able to leave her house and drive away in her car as troopers responded to the scene. The boyfriend followed in his own vehicle.
Around Mile 4 of the road, troopers say the ex-boyfriend -- later identified as 24-year-old Aaron Michael Rael-Catholic -- rammed his car into the woman’s vehicle. The Homer Tribune reports the collision occurred on McLay Road.
Troopers say Rael-Catholic then left his car and became involved in a “struggle” with the responding trooper. The trooper tried to arrest him, using both pepper spray and a Taser, and eventually wrestled the man to the ground.
During the struggle, Troopers say Rael-Catholic got hold of the trooper’s weapon and “fatally shot himself.”
The Alaska Bureau of Investigation is looking into the initial domestic violence assault, the car collision, and just how Rael-Catholic obtained the gun and used it on himself. All elements of the incident are still under review, Troopers say.
An autopsy by the State Medical Examiner's Office on Rael-Catholic is expected later this week.
The woman was transported to a local hospital for evaluation. Troopers say the officer was uninjured.
The name of the trooper is being withheld for 72 hours, as per AST policy.
Court records show Rael-Catholic has misdemeanor assault charges from December 2013.
Lt. Will Hutt with the Homer Police Department said Rael-Catholic lived outside the city limits and didn't have a history of violent behavior.
Hutt said HPD has had “contacts with him for a driving offense but other that, that’s it.” Hutt said Rael-Catholic has been remanded in the HPD facility before, but Troopers also use that facility.
Rael-Catholic’s neighbor on McLay Road, Glenda Korn, says he was a hard-working fisherman. She has doubts about whether he could have fired the gun himself after “a deployment of both pepper spray and a Taser were attempted,” as noted in an AST dispatch on the incident.
“I just want to say there should be a full investigation because it's flat-out -- he's a young black man who's dead on the side of the road in Homer, Alaska,” Korn said. “I want answers, especially for his family.”
Channel 2's Dan Carpenter contributed information to this story.