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Commercial Operator Arrested For Assault On Rangers

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

National Park News

On June 21st, rangers Jacqueline Ashwell and Dave Keltner interviewed Canadian/German citizen Paul Maria Maximilian Kloepfer, a guide for a Canadian-based tour company suspected of operating in the park without a permit. When it became clear to Kloepfer that he would be issued a violation notice for not having a permit, he became increasingly agitated and refused to follow several orders to sit down at a picnic table. Kloepfer told Ashwell that she was ruining his life and he would lose his job. When Keltner went to retrieve the tour company vehicle's identification number, Kloepfer approached him, again ignoring orders to remain seated at the picnic table. In response to Kloepfer's combative demeanor, Keltner drew his OC spray and continued to order Kloepfer to sit down. When Kloepfer continued to approach the ranger, he was sprayed with OC at a distance of about 10 feet. Kloepfer continued to resist, refusing to comply with orders, and the rangers forced him to the ground. While they were attempting to handcuff Kloepfer, he struck Aswhell in the eye with his elbow, causing a black eye and minor concussion. Keltner sustained a hyper-extended left shoulder as a result of Klopefer's combative behavior. The rangers were ultimately able to use pressure points to gain compliance and secure Kloepfer without further injury.  Skagway City Police Department officers provided backup and arrested Kloepfer for assault. The decision to initially charge/arrest Kloepfer under Alaska state law was due to the logistical challenge of transporting him to Juneau, which is the closest federal holding facility. The next day, Kloepfer plead no contest to state charges for assaulting the two rangers and was sentenced to 180 days in jail, 60 suspended, and fined $1,000, suspended, with one year’s probation upon release.  Additional federal charges may be forthcoming.


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