UPDATE: Fairbanks police identify officers who fatally shot armed suspect

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Update - Thursday, 9 a.m.

Fairbanks police on Thursday released the names of the four officers who shot and killed an armed suspect early Monday morning.

The officers have been identified as follows:

  • Officer Lane Bonham, 21-years-old, has been with FPD 11 months

  • Officer Gerrit Butler, 32-years-old, has been with FPD for 16 months

  • Officer Cory Rupe, 36-years-old, has been with FPD for 5 years

  • Officer Kirt Allen, 50-years-old, has been with FPD for 18 years

Fairbanks mayor Jim Matherly also issued a statement Thursday morning voicing support for the officers and dispatchers involved in the incident. The mayor also thanked community members who reported the suspicious activity that led police to the suspect.

“Events such as this highlight the stressful and dangerous conditions that officers work in every day,” the mayor’s office wrote in a prepared statement.

“This is the second officer-involved shooting in less than a month, and Mayor Matherly recognizes the intense stress that these traumatic events place on officers, their families and their co-workers.”

Update - Tuesday, 4:05 p.m.:

At 3 p.m., on Tuesday, the Fairbanks Police Department broadcasted a live press briefing at 911 Cushman Street.

According to Fairbanks police chief Eric Jewkes, FPD initially received a call around 3 a.m. on Monday, reporting suspicious activity of a masked figure "with some type of rifle," in the parking lot of Denny's, near Airport Way.

Chief Jewkes said the Fairbanks Correctional Center was also notified of the suspicious activity, and FCC staff kept an eye on the individual as five Fairbanks officers formulated a plan to make contact with the suspect, later identified as Matthew Colton Stover, 21, of Northway.

"Two officers approached (Stover) in their vehicles, stopping a considerable distance away," said Chief Jewkes. "They activated their lights and made contact with the suspect over the PA."

Following, the Stover exited his vehicle, charged at the officers, and fired a "air-styled rifle" at the patrol cars, he said.

"The officers returned fire," said Chief Jewkes. "Ultimately killing the suspect on scene."

Without identifying a specific round count, Chief Jewkes said both suspect and police fired "several rounds."

Upon further investigation, FPD found that Stover was armed with an AR-styled rifle and Glock 9mm handgun and had "numerous loaded magazines" for both guns. FPD said they counted about 400 rounds of ammunition.

"He was also wearing body armor that covered a significant part of his body," said Chief Jewkes. While FPD said they are still looking into exactly how much of his body was covered, Chief Jewkes said Stover was wearing a ballistic face mask.

After the shooting concluded, with Stover confirmed deceased, FPD and AST discovered that Stover had "modified his vehicle to conceal the make and to change its original appearance," said Chief Jewkes.

He added that officers also noticed a large bag with a "fuel type smell or some type of accelerant."

Chief Jewkes said that he is proud of the way the officers-involved conducted themselves and the way they confronted an armed gunman, "who had spent considerable time preparing for an armed confrontation." He also sends his sympathies out to Stover's family.

All of the officers came out unharmed.

According to the Alaska Department of Law, Monday marks the fifth officer-involved shooting, in 2017. In total, there have been 83 officer-involved shootings, since 2008.

Update - Tuesday, 9:10 a.m.:
An armed suspect was fatally shot by police, after opening fire on four officers early Monday morning, FPD wrote in a press release.

Authorities have identified the deceased shooter as 21-year-old Matthew Colton Stover from Northway. The names of the four officers, who returned fire, are being withheld for a 72 hour period per department policy.

The incident began at around 3 a.m. Monday, when Fairbanks police received reports of a masked man armed with a long gun behind a Denny’s Restaurant. By the time officers arrived, Stover had fled.

While police and Alaska State Troopers were searching the area, an employee at the Fairbanks Correctional Center saw Stover sitting in a vehicle behind the facility and called police. As officers were setting up a perimeter in the area, Stover got out of the vehicle and opened fire.

"The suspect rapidly exited the vehicle and advanced towards the officers while firing at them. The officers returned fire," FPD wrote in the press release.

Stover was pronounced dead at the scene. His family members have been notified.

After the shooting, investigators found “some hazards” at the scene and a bomb squad was called in to assists. FPD spokeswoman Yumi McCulloch could not immediately elaborate further on what the hazards were.

"The scene appeared to have some hazards and out of concerns for the safety of the officers and investigators, the Fort Wainwright Explosive Ordnance Disposal team was called in to assist," FPD wrote in the press release.

Nearby buildings, including the Chief Andrew Isaac Medical Center and a movie theatre were either evacuated or placed on lockdown while the EOD team was on scene, police said. After processing the scene for several hours the area was declared safe.

Original Story - Monday, 7:02 a.m.:
Fairbanks police say an armed suspect was shot dead during a confrontation with four officers early Monday morning.

According to FPD spokesperson Yumi McCulloch, the incident happened at around 4 a.m. The response came after two reports of a "man wearing a mask with a long gun."

"Officers encountered an armed gunman that confronted the officers," McCulloch said in an emailed statement. "Officers returned fire. The suspect died at the scene."

McCulloch could not immediately say what the officers were responding to. Police are declining to release the location of the shooting in order to "keep the scene secure," she told Channel 2.

FPD also called in Fort Wainwright's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team because of some hazards and out of concern for the safety of officers and investigators.

The four officers were not injured. They have been placed on three days administrative leave per department policy, FPD said.

Their names will be released after 72 hours.

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