By Hannah Heimbuch
A Homer man is dead following a struggle with an Alaska State Trooper Wednesday evening. According to the Trooper dispatch, Aaron Michael Rael-Catholic, 24, was driving a vehicle when it collided with another on McLay Road, approximately four miles out East End Road.
A trooper — whose name is being withheld for 72 hours — reported to the scene of the accident, after which a struggle ensued with Rael-Catholic. According to what Troopers are calling preliminary information, Rael-Catholic allegedly gained control of the trooper’s pistol, and fatally shot himself.
Troopers initially received a domestic violence report, at approximately 8:17 p.m. that evening. A woman reported that her ex-boyfriend was assaulting her at her home. The two then apparently entered separate vehicles and left the residence.
The ex-boyfriend — later identified as Rael Catholic — “rammed his vehicle into the female victim’s vehicle,” the trooper report states.
During the altercation that followed the collision, the trooper reportedly deployed both a taser and pepper spray in an attempt to arrest Rael-Catholic. The two wrestled to the ground. The details of how he eventually obtained the pistol and those surrounding the fatal gunshot are under close review by the investigating authorities.
Christie Hill and her husband were returning to their China Poot Street home via McLay Road yesterday evening when they saw an overturned truck, a black SUV and a Trooper vehicle on McLay.
“When we were driving up the road, a cop had a guy at gun point,” Hill said. “It looked like he had someone at gunpoint on the ground.”
Hill could not see the person on the ground, or the condition that individual was in. She did not see any other law enforcement or civilians at the time.
“We saw the truck up on its side,” Hill said, “and then a black SUV behind it.”
The trooper used his free hand to indicate that they should turn around, Hill said, though they were not close enough to hear anything.
“We didn’t have the window down or anything,” she said. “We just saw him waving his arm at us.”
Hill and her husband turned their vehicle around immediately, and continued to the East End Road junction with China Poot Street, and drove home that way.
She and her other neighbors were very concerned, she said, and until the trooper dispatch was released this morning had no idea what had happened.
They drove across Dietz Lane, which connects to McLay and looked down toward the scene, she said, which is when they heard and saw additional sirens and emergency vehicles arrive.
“The whole neighborhood was kind of wondering what was going on,” Hill said. “Just all of a sudden there’s every cop and trooper in town there.”
According to Hill, law enforcement activity on McLay continued well into the early morning hours.
“We went by this morning and saw the marks on the road, the glass from the truck,” she said.
According to Alaska State Trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters, there is no further information available from the troopers at this time. The Alaska Bureau of Investigation is conducting an investigation into the death, the collision, and the domestic violence report.
The woman who filed the domestic violence report was transported to South Peninsula Hospital for evaluation. The reporting trooper was not injured.
An autopsy of Rael-Catholic, who was declared deceased at the scene, will be conducted by the State Medical Examiner’s Office this week.
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