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Arizona man kills man pointing gun at Alaska trooper

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A man was shot to death by an Arizona man near Manley Hot Springs this week after pointing a long gun at an Alaska State Trooper, officials said.

The deceased man was identified Friday as 40-year-old Russell Sampietro, authorities said.

Sampietro was killed by an Arizona fisherman, who had called for trooper assistance Tuesday because Sampietro had allegedly been shooting earlier at him and a fishing partner, authorities said.

Sampietro and the fisherman didn't know each other, according to troopers. The fishermen and a companion were trying to get to a fishing spot past Sampietro's camp when the first shots were fired. No one was injured.

The fisherman, who has not been identified, complained to authorities, and accompanied Trooper Michael Wery to the scene. That's when they encountered Sampietro, officials said.

Sampietro allegedly grabbed his long gun after a physical confrontation. Troopers said the fisherman then grabbed a personal firearm and shot Sampietro several times.

Sampietro had lived in the 75-person community of Manley Hot Springs for several years and had been camping nearby for what troopers say may have been several months.

Trooper spokesman Brandon Anderson said Sampietro had a criminal history, including a DUI.

Troopers also didn't say whether the fisherman, a 42-year-old tourist from Arizona, would be charged in the shooting.

A law passed recently by the Alaska Legislature allows a person to use deadly force in self defense outside the home, but the law doesn't go into effect until mid-September.

"There will certainly be an investigation into whether it was defense of self and defense of a trooper," Anderson said.

The incident is still under investigation. Troopers don't know why he may have been shooting at the fishermen, who had been sport fishing on the Tanana River.Arizona man kills man pointing gun at Alaska trooper

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Here's the article in the local paper. A lot more detail.

Man killed in shooting near Manley
By Amanda Bohman
Published July 14, 2006
Posted in Local

A man was shot and killed near Manley Hot Springs after grabbing his gun as if he meant to shoot an Alaska State Trooper, according to the law enforcement agency.

Russell Sampietro, 40, of Manley died Wednesday afternoon after he was shot multiple times, according to Caty Zeitler, a former Manley health aide who checked his vital signs.

Sampietro was shot by a fisherman accompanying Trooper Michael Wery, who was investigating a report that Sampietro had fired shots in the fisherman’s direction the day before, said trooper spokesman Lt. Brandon Anderson.

The fisherman was reportedly trying to get to a fishing spot past Sampietro’s camp where the Tanana and Zitziana rivers meet on Tuesday when the first shooting occurred, Anderson said. No one was hurt.

The fisherman reported the incident to troopers and waited a day at the Manley Roadhouse until law enforcement arrived, said Zeitler, who works at the roadhouse.

Anderson identified the fisherman as a correctional officer visiting from Arizona. The lieutenant said the man is cooperating with the Alaska Bureau of Investigation’s probe into the incident and that his name would be released today.

When Wery arrived in Manley, a village of 74 people located at the end of the Elliott Highway, the men went by boat to Sampietro’s camp a few miles upriver, a trooper report stated.

The fisherman accompanied Wery to show him the location of Sampietro’s camp. The trooper did not know the fisherman was armed, Anderson said.

“People are certainly allowed to carry firearms outdoors,†Anderson said. “There’s nothing illegal about that.â€

When the men contacted Sampietro, who was reportedly living in a wall tent, “a physical confrontation ensued during which the suspect grabbed a long gun and acted as if he was going to shoot the trooper,†the trooper statement said. “The civilian complainant produced a personal weapon and fired on the suspect, striking him several times.â€

The fisherman told authorities he thought Sampietro aimed to shoot him or Wery, Anderson said.

“He fired to protect the trooper or himself,†the lieutenant said. “They did attempt some emergency first aid on (Sampietro) at the scene but it was too late.â€

Sampietro was taken into Manley by boat and Zeitler confirmed his death shortly after 3 p.m. when Wery ran into the roadhouse asking for help. Zeitler said Sampietro was in handcuffs in the boat when she checked him.

It’s unclear whether the fisherman will be charged with a crime.

“The law allows for justifiable homicides under strict criteria, and that’s what the investigation is looking into,†Anderson said.

Zeitler described Sampietro as a loner who maintained friendships with some Manley residents, but scared others with occasional bizarre behavior, such as sitting on top of a tall bridge looking down at the water for long periods of time.

Sampietro lived a subsistence lifestyle in the forest outside Manley, Zeitler said. Sometimes months would pass before he came into the village. He apparently suffered from mental illness.

“You could tell he struggled,†Zeitler said. “He could be friendly and then he could be very distant.â€

Reporter Amanda Bohman can be reached at [email protected] or 459-7544.
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