Update, Aug. 26, 3 p.m.: Alaska State Troopers officially identified the injured trooper. The story has been updated to include that official notification as well as an update on the trooper’s medical condition. He is in “good” condition.
A Special Emergency Reaction Team on Tuesday found and arrested a man wanted in connection to a Monday shooting of an Alaska State Trooper at a downtown Anchor Point business.
State troopers arrested 60-year-old Bret Herrick, of Anchor Point, near his residence around 8:40 a.m. Tuesday morning, according to a trooper dispatch.
Herrick was taken to the Homer Jail and booked at about 9:10 a.m. and transported to Wildwood Pretrial Facility in Kenai at about 11:20 a.m., according to Homer Police Chief Mark Robl. Herrick remains at Wildwood.
Herrick will be charged with first-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault, according to a trooper dispatch issued at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. An arraignment scheduled for Wednesday at the Kenai Courthouse was held and then postponed until Thursday morning because of an error in charging documents and to allow investigators more time to gather information. The “attempted” box on the form for the murder charge had not been checked.
The dispatch said the investigation into Monday’s incident will continue and an increased law enforcement presence in Anchor Point is to be expected.
The trooper, who was assigned to Anchor Point when shot Monday, was said to still be in “fair condition” after being airlifted to Anchorage from a local hospital, according to an 11 a.m. update from a trooper dispatch on Tuesday.
On Thursday, his condition was upgraded to “good” condition, according to an Alaska State Trooper Dispatch.
“There were no other injuries of anybody not directly involved in this incident known to troopers at this time,” said Austin McDaniel, a trooper spokesperson.
Because the injured trooper also discharged his firearm, McDaniel said that following Department of Public Safety policy, the trooper’s name will not be released for 72 hours, or until 1 p.m. Aug. 26, after the shooting.
On Aug. 26, troopers officially identified the injured trooper who discharged his firearm. He is Trooper Bruce Brueggeman, a six-month veteran of the Alaska State Troopers. Trooper Brueggeman also has 32 years of additional law enforcement service in the Lower 48. Trooper Brueggeman is receiving medical care at an Anchorage area hospital, and is currently in good condition.
The injured trooper also was identified as Brueggeman in a criminal complaint filed in the Kenai Court on Tuesday.
According to that complaint, Investigator Timothy Cronin alleged that Herrick shot the Brueggeman five times with a semi-automatic .45-caliber handgun, with some bullets hitting the trooper’s ballistic vest and one bullet hitting his left upper arm. That wound caused significant injury and bleeding, with a tourniquet applied to slow blood loss. Medics took the trooper by ambulance to South Peninsula Hospital, where he was airlifted by helicopter to Providence Alaska Medical Center. Brueggeman had multiple surgeries to his arm to repair damage. He also suffered a rib fracture.
On Monday, the shooting prompted an alert from the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management asking people to avoid the Anchor Point area near Mile 156.5 of the Sterling Highway in response to the shooting and active investigation by the Alaska State Troopers. Law enforcement directed traffic through a gas station across from the scene of the shooting in the area of the Anchor Point Warehouse and the Useful Things pawn shop. Side roads in the area also were closed.
Herrick was considered armed and dangerous, according to Monday’s trooper dispatch.
A heavy presence of troopers and vehicles could be seen in the parking lot on Monday, with a K-9 cruiser and a Bearcat armored vehicle. Several troopers carried assault rifles. Robl said three Homer Police officers responded to assist. Ambulances from Western Emergency Services also stood by.
Nearby Chapman School was placed in a “stay put” status, but children and staff were safe, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Communications Director Pegge Erkeneff said Monday afternoon. Parents were advised not to go to the school, which was said to be working with law enforcement. Erkeneff confirmed Monday evening that children had all gone home and were released to parents.
On Tuesday a shelter-in-place advisory was lifted for the area. Chapman School remain closed on Tuesday, which was announced around 7:30 a.m. before Herrick was apprehended.
In a press release at about 11 a.m. Tuesday, troopers added more details about the shooting. At about 1 p.m. Monday, an Anchor Point trooper saw Herrick at a downtown business. The trooper knew Herrick had multiple warrants for his arrest. The trooper contacted Herrick and attempted to arrest him. Troopers said Herrick pulled a handgun and fired at the trooper, hitting him multiple times. The trooper also discharged his service weapon. As another trooper responded, Herrick fled the area on foot, the release reported.
The criminal complaint released Tuesday added more details. About 1 p.m. Monday, Sgt. Daniel Cox of the Anchor Point Post went to the Warehouse Store on the Sterling Highway to locate Herrick after he had been observed there. Brueggeman went to provide backup, but arrived before Cox. According to video footage and an interview with Brueggeman before he went into surgery, Herrick walked away in the parking lot when told to stop. He then pulled a handgun and shot multiple times at the trooper. Brueggman returned fire, shooting once. Investigators found five .45-caliber casings, allegedly from Herrick’s weapon, and one .40-caliber casing from the trooper’s duty handgun on the south side of the Warehouse Store.
Local law enforcement, Alaska Department of Public Safety aircraft and troopers with the Special Emergency Reaction Team, or SERT, went to Anchor Point to search for Herrick, according to Tuesday’s press release. The search went on through the day and into Monday evening and early Tuesday morning. At about 8:40 a.m. Tuesday, SERT members and troopers following up on a tip found Herrick near his Anchor Point home. Troopers arrested Herrick without incident.
According to the criminal complaint, after detaining Herrick, troopers searched him and found a .45-caliber handgun with a round in the chamber, an empty .45 magazine and a full .45 magazine. Herrick also wore a belt with a handgun holster and clothing similar to the injured trooper’s description of him.
After his arrest, investigators read Herrick his rights and interviewed him at the Homer Jail. According to the complaint, Herrick spoke about the Second Amendment and possessing firearms. He also said he didn’t know why the trooper told him to stop and also asked if the trooper he shot was OK.
Troopers initially arrested Herrick on four outstanding warrants, McDaniel said.
According to court records, Herrick had warrants for failure to appear in court related to an October 2020 charge of disorderly conduct, March and July 2021 charges of violating conditions of release, an April charge of reckless endangerment and a July charge of resisting arrest.
Herrick has a criminal history dating back to at least 2004 on the Kenai Peninsula. Most were minor charges including fourth-degree assault and unlawful conduct.
In August 2012, prosecutors charged Herrick with kidnapping, armed assault, robbery and burglary after troopers said he forced at gun point a man into his truck, drove him to a Homer bank and made him withdraw money from an ATM. Connected to that case, troopers arrested Herrick in December 2012. That encounter led to a scuffle in which Herrick assaulted troopers, according to troopers.
When the kidnapping and other charges went to trial in May of 2013, prosecutors couldn’t locate a key witness, the alleged victim, because the fishing boat he crewed on was caught in an ice flow in the Bering Sea. In a plea agreement, Herrick pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and two charges of fourth-degree assault. The more serious charges were dismissed.
In another case, Homer Police arrested Herrick in September 2015 on a charge of second-degree terroristic threatening. In charging documents, police said witnesses described Herrick as dressing like a pirate and acting strangely at the Homer Ferry Terminal. He also carried a foot-long knife in a sheath partially visible underneath a leather jacket, according to police. Police said Herrick told one woman “We’re all going to die.” Police said Herrick acted agitated, belligerent and violent. Prosecutors later dismissed that charge.
Herrick’s defense attorney said at the time that the case came down to the First Amendment giving wide latitude for freedom of speech.
“Bret may have been saying things that might have been odd. He’s an odd character. Homer’s full of odd characters,” the defense lawyer said then.