Alaska Troopers say shooting was 'unavoidable'

Report says woman had repeatedly indicated that she intended to commit 'suicide by cop'

Posted: Monday, November 16, 2009

ANCHORAGE - The fatal shooting of a 58-year-old woman after she leveled a shotgun at troopers was "completely unavoidable," said Alaska State Trooper director Col. Audie Holloway.

Troopers reported that prior to the shooting, the woman had repeatedly indicated that she intended to commit "suicide by cop."

The deadly standoff started at about 2 a.m. Saturday when a Wasilla man in a wheelchair called authorities and said the woman who helped take care of him, Nora J. York, was suicidal and threatening him with a shotgun.

The man said York had been threatening him all day and he was afraid she might hurt him or a neighbor, Holloway said.

York was upset with the man over his friendship with a neighbor and didn't feel he appreciated all that she did for him around the home, he said.

When troopers arrived, York was outside the log home with the shotgun. She also had a semiautomatic handgun in her pocket. At one point, she tried to get back in the house only to find that the man inside had locked the door.

Officers used a stun gun on York as she tried to make her way to another entrance. After that failed to subdue her and she pointed the shotgun at troopers, they fired at her as she stood on her porch. She died at the scene.

"It was just completely unavoidable," Holloway said.

Trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said before the shooting, dispatchers heard the woman say she was glad troopers were there and hoped they were good shots.

One trooper was treated for a minor gunshot wound. Officials aren't sure if the trooper was injured from a ricocheted bullet from an officer's gun or if the round was fired by the woman.

York was drinking heavily and may have been using medication, troopers said.

According to policy, the names of the officers involved will not be released for three days.

York legally changed her name in 1993, according to court records. She was previously named Johnnie Uhl. An online resource registry for transgendered people listed her as the contact person for a now-defunct support group in Anchorage.

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