For Immediate Release
Felon Who Shot at Police Officers and Killed Police Dog Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison
Anchorage, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced that Almando Abarca, 26, of Palmer, was sentenced yesterday by Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy M. Burgess, to serve 10 years in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Abarca was already a convicted felon (Burglary in the Second Degree) in September 2016 when he was involved in an incident where he fled from Palmer police officers at a high rate of speed in a vehicle towards Anchorage. At approximately Mile 36 of the Glenn Highway, Abarca slowed the vehicle down and jumped out with a handgun in his hand. The Palmer police officers had been joined by this time by an Alaska State Trooper and his police canine “Helo.” As he was being pursued on foot, Abarca turned and shot Helo several times and exchanged gunfire with the officers. The officers returned fire at Abarca and were able to wound and disable him. Abarca was then found in possession of a .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun. The officers were unhurt, but Helo later died from the gunshot injuries inflicted by Abarca.
Abarca was indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2016 for being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was separately charged by a state grand jury that same month with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of assault, and one count of felony destruction of a police dog. Abarca plead guilty to the federal charge in October 2017, but proceeded to trial on the state charges in late January 2018. He was convicted by a state trial jury on all counts, and is awaiting sentencing on the state convictions.
In imposing the 10-year sentence on Abarca, Judge Burgess noted that the sentence was the statutory maximum sentence which he could impose and that the applicable federal sentencing guidelines actually called for a much higher sentence. Judge Burgess told Abarca that he was “lucky to be alive and lucky that the court was limited as to the sentence which it could impose”.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Palmer Police Department, and the Alaska State Troopers. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Bottini.