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Non-lethal munition ignites clothing of suspect in Alaska

October 12, 2018

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A 35-year-old man left his pickup truck with his clothes on fire after sitting on a non-lethal chemical weapon fired into the truck by Alaska State Troopers.

The man was treated for injuries and was not in custody Friday.

Troopers have recommended that state prosecutors charge the man with weapons misconduct and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Troopers encountered the man while responding to a call Wednesday about someone slumped over their steering wheel outside a convenience store between Fairbanks and North Pole.

A witness said the man had a gun in his hand and a bottle of beer next to him. Authorities say the man is a convicted felon who is not allowed to possess a gun.

Troopers approached and attempted to get him to leave the truck. When he refused, troopers with assistance from Fairbanks police used armored rescue vehicles to pin the pickup in place.

Officers attempted to force the man from the truck with non-lethal munitions. In their final attempt, they used a “stinger grenade,” troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said in an email response to questions.

The device contains rubber pellets and a small amount of oleoresin capsicum, which is used in pepper spray. The device was deployed according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, troopers said.

The stinger grenade landed in the suspect’s lap, Trooper Lt. Brian Wasserman told Fairbanks television station KTVF.

It discharged when he sat on it, troopers said.

“There is some heat that’s generated from those, but they’re designed for indoor use,” Wasserman said.

The man exited the truck with his clothes on fire. Troopers extinguished the fire and emergency responders transported him to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. He was not listed as a patient there Friday morning.

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