Mark Heinz Apprehended at Mile 131 Richardson at 2:22 pm Saturday

TROOPER UPDATE: October 17th   "Taken Into Custody Without Incident"   Location:  Richardson Hwy Type:  Public Advisory/Wanted Per...

TROOPER UPDATE: October 17th  

"Taken Into Custody Without Incident"  

Location: Richardson Hwy
Type: Public Advisory/Wanted Person

Dispatch Text:

UPDATE: On 10/17/20, at approximately 13:22, AST was notified by a citizen of a person matching the suspect description near Mile 131 of the Richardson Hwy. Troopers responded and Mark Heinz was subsequently taken into custody without incident. Heinz is being transported to a local medical facility for medical clearance prior to being transported to Mat Su Pretrial Facility. The road has reopened to through traffic. Investigation continues.

Lifelong Gakona resident Mark Heinz is wanted by the Alaska State Troopers who portray him as a runaway gunman who shot at Troopers and escaped into the woods north of Gakona Junction. 

Sirens Blaring, Armored Cars... There's Nothing Subtle About A Modern-Day Manhunt In The Black Spruce Forests Of The Copper River Valley  

Police sirens screamed the presence of multiple Trooper vehicles all afternoon on Friday, October 16th, as they barrelled back and forth north of Gakona Junction, looking for Mark Heinz. They roared past Mark's little handmade house,  just past the Tok Cutoff corner, on their way to search for him in the dense thickets 20 miles from where he lived. They had last seen Mark headed into the woods,  a mile beyond Sourdough.  Mark Heinz comes from a small – and growing – community at the junction. As of Saturday morning, October 17th, there was a blockade, starting at Mile 128 – a half mile south of the Tok Cutoff corner and up the hill from Gulkana Village. The Trooper blockade extended through the junction, past multiple homes on both sides of the road. Tim DeSpain of the Alaska State Troopers told the Journal Saturday morning that people were asked to avoid the area if at all possible. He said there would be "limited pilot cars" headed through – and to "expect delays." 
Trooper blockade starts at Mile 128 Richardson. (Photo, Country Journal)

On October 16th, at 2:10 pm, Troopers had put out a public advisory asking motorists on the Richardson Highway, between Miles 134 and 165 to not pick up hitchhikers. The posting was listed only a few hours after a school lockdown at Glennallen School, due to a "possible gunman." (See story in "Schools" section.)

Troopers said Heinz "should be considered armed and dangerous." They asked for anyone with information to call 911. The Richardson Highway was closed between Miles 134 and 165 on Friday afternoon, October 16th. 

The incident began on October 16th at 9:30 in the morning, when Troopers got a REDDI (Report Every Distracted Driver Immediately) report about a vehicle that almost caused a collision at Gakona Lodge. Around 9:40, Trooper dispatch got a call from someone at the lodge reporting the vehicle was traveling toward the Richardson. 

Troopers came across the car at 10:04 am about two miles east of the Tok Cutoff. The Trooper initiated a traffic stop. The driver failed to yield and attempted to flee. During the pursuit, the driver shot at the Trooper, according to a Trooper report, near Mile 157 of the Richardson. The Trooper was not injured and fired back, but the suspect continued to flee, they said. Eventually he stopped, jumped out of his vehicle, and ran into the woods near Mile 149. 

Members of Southern Special Emergency Reaction Teams (SERTs) from from all over the state and Helo-3 helicopters answered the call. Also on board were members of the Alaska Bureau of Investigation and "B" & "D" Trooper Detachment general investigation teams. Troopers are also getting help and technical assistance from the FBI, National Park Service and Village Public Safety Officer Program.  


Mark Heinz's family, including his parents, Fred and Pat Heinz, were well known in the Copper Valley.

Mark Heinz (Alaska State Troopers)

The Heinz family has been stricken by tragedy.

Mark Heinz's wife, Janet Hooper Heinz, died young at the age of 39 in 2002 of a fatal illness. His brother, Bill Heinz, died tragically at the age of 20, drowning at Summit Lake in a canoe accident in 1979. Two years ago, in 2018, his older brother, Fred E. Heinz, died quickly and unexpectedly. 

Fred Heinz, his father, died at the age of 79 in Kansas that same year.


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