Witness Corroborates Trooper's Report On Shooting

Aaron Selbig

     The Alaska State Trooper involved in a fatal shooting near Homer last week has been identified. In a statement Saturday, Alaska State Troopers identified Trooper David Chaffin as the officer involved in a fatal shooting east of Homer last Wednesday night. Chaffin is a five-year veteran of the force who is stationed out of the Anchor Point post.

     According to Chaffin’s report, the shooting occurred during a struggle with 24-year-old Aaron Michael Rael-Catholic. Chaffin attempted to apprehend Rael-Catholic following a report of a domestic violence assault shortly after 8 p.m. at a residence about four miles out East End Road.

     The female victim who made the report was able to escape the assault by Rael-Catholic. She left the residence in a vehicle just as Chaffin arrived on the scene. Rael-Catholic then used another vehicle to ram into the victim’s car.

     According to Chaffin’s report, the suspect then got out of the car and a struggle ensued. In an attempt to apprehend Rael-Catholic, Chaffin used pepper spray and then his Taser but to no avail. Chaffin and the suspect ended up wrestling on the ground. During this struggle, Rael-Catholic got a hold of Chaffin’s pistol and fatally shot himself.

     Chaffin was not injured in the incident.

     On Friday, the State Medical Examiner’s Office completed an autopsy on Rael-Catholic’s body, concluding that he died from a single gunshot wound to the head. 

     Troopers also report that an eyewitness to the shooting saw Rael-Catholic shoot himself with Chaffin’s pistol during the struggle. It is not known if the eyewitness is the female victim of the domestic assault or another person.

     Trooper Spokesperson Megan Peters says an investigation by the Alaska Bureau of Investigation is continuing and when the report is complete, it will be provided to the Department of Law's Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals for review.