Bulldozer helps end Talkeetna standoff

Posted: Tuesday, September 12, 2006

ANCHORAGE - An armed Talkeetna man barricaded himself in his trailer home for two days and resisted chemical assaults and a high pressure water stream but surrendered when Alaska State Troopers ripped away part of his home's wall with a bulldozer.

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Troopers on Friday tried to arrest Donald B. Voorhis, 47, on three misdemeanor warrants. He also was suspected of pointing a rifle at a neighbor, officials said.

Chemical irritants and the high pressure water stream failed to dislodge him after two days at his home on Rampart Road off Mile 7.5 Talkeetna Spur Road, the 14-mile road that leads from the Parks Highway to Talkeetna.

Voorhis fired shots Sunday afternoon at two officers who thought he was going to surrender and approached his door. They returned fire and retreated and no one was hit.

Finally, a trooper used a small bulldozer to rip off a wall of the trailer. With his hiding place exposed, Voorhis surrendered at about 9 p.m.

A Palmer judge issued misdemeanor arrest warrants for Voorhis on Aug. 25. He was sought on three counts of failure to appear.

A felony warrant was added after an incident Wednesday.

A neighbor, Johnny R. Yow, 48, said he was driving on Rampart Road and spotted Voorhis standing with a rifle. Yow told troopers Voorhis stopped him, pointed a rifle at him and fired a round while standing next to Yow's vehicle.

Officers drove to Voorhis' home that day and he fled into nearby woods, they said.

On Friday, the investigating trooper again arrived at the home. Voorhis refused to come out and pointed a rifle out the door at the officer, troopers said.

Troopers from Talkeetna and Palmer joined the investigating trooper and the standoff was on.

On Saturday, a Palmer judge issued a search warrant for entry into Voorhis' home. A mental health physician tried talking him out of the house but was not successful.

Twenty-seven hours after the standoff began, troopers "introduced chemical irritants" into the home. That lasted six hours but Voorhis could not be dislodged. Troopers used a variety of standard law enforcement-approved chemicals, Wilkinson said.

On Sunday morning, troopers again tried chemical irritants and were not successful.

Early Sunday night, troopers tried penetrating the trailer with a stream of water from a high pressure nozzle. That also failed.

Troopers finally used the small bulldozer to scrape open the side of the trailer. The officer driving the machine kept the blade up for protection and no shots were fired. Voorhis was arrested uninjured. Troopers found a rifle next to him, they said.

Troopers said additional criminal charges will be discussed with the Palmer District Attorney.

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