Police chase ends in wetlands

Four shots fired by officer at suspect driving van

Posted: Friday, September 26, 2008

A report about men drinking in a van in the Mendenhall Valley Thursday night resulted in gunfire, a woman run over by a vehicle, and a police pursuit ending with a crash onto the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge.

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Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire
Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire

Police have arrested Juneau resident Victor Powell on multiple charges, including driving while intoxicated. More charges are pending and the investigation continues, Juneau Police Department spokeswoman Cindee Brown-Mills said.

Police officers attempted to make a traffic stop on Mendenhall Mall Road after receiving a report at 5:51 p.m. about people drinking in a van, Brown-Mills said.

"Officers attempted to do a vehicle stop and it did not stop," she said. "It continued to move at a slow rate of speed."

The driver continued behind a building adjacent to the Mendenhall Mall, where police were able to surround the vehicle and get it to stop, Brown-Mills said.

A male and a female passenger exited the van prior to Powell allegedly accelerating the vehicle toward a police officer, resulting in four gunshots fired from police, Brown-Mills said. The bullets did not strike anyone, she said.

As he attempted to flee the scene, Powell allegedly ran over the female passenger with the van, causing "life threatening" injuries, Brown-Mills said. The female passenger was alive as of press time and police had not yet identified her.

"At that point they got into a pursuit with the vehicle," Brown-Mills said, with speeds ranging from 40 to 50 miles per hour through the Lemon Creek area.

Numerous police cruisers were in pursuit of the van as it barreled past Grant's Plaza at 6:10 p.m. on Vanderbilt Hill Road before it crossed four lanes of traffic on Egan Drive, crashed through the guardrail and launched off the road into the wetlands.

The blue Ford van, painted with murals depicting boats, dolphins and an octopus, came to rest in several inches of water in the tide flats about 150 feet off Egan Drive. Police surrounded the vehicle with guns drawn.

Police found Powell unconscious in the vehicle, Brown-Mills said. Capital City Fire Rescue extracted the suspect from the sliding side door and carried him from the scene on a backboard before transporting him to Bartlett Regional Hospital.

Hospital staff would not provide information on Powell's condition Thursday night.

The investigation resulted in a temporary closure of the Vanderbilt and Egan intersection, leading to traffic delays.

• Contact reporter Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.

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