It all began on August 1st, 2011, when a trooper was called to the Delta State Recreation Site campground for a report of an intoxicated man firing a gun. Trooper Steven Lantz responded and found Timothy J. Fitzgerald lying on the ground. When Fitzgerald pointed a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol at him and another bystander, Lantz fired one shot that hit Fitzgerald in the shoulder. At the time of the incident, Fitzgerald was a U.S. Army Specialist assigned to the rear detachment of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Wainwright.
According to Case No. 4DJ-11-00059CR in the Alaska Court System database, Fitzgerald was originally charged with two counts of Assault 3 - Cause Fear Of Injury w/Weapon (Class C Felony), one count Misc/Weapons 4- Possess While Intoxicated (Class A Misdemeanor), and one count Reckless Endangerment (Class A Misdemeanor).
Fitzgerald initially pleaded not guilty to all charges, but on June 18th, accepted a plea deal in which he would plead guilty to the two assault charges, and the weapons and endangerment charges would be dropped. In exchange, Fitzgerald would be let off with probation, on condition of not drinking, possessing weapons or returning to Delta Junction for the next three years. Fitzgerald is from Fort Wainwright. The judge in the case was Robert B. Downes, who's not up for retention until 2014.
Perhaps the fact that Fitzgerald was shot was considered to be part of the punishment. In addition, Fitzgerald has a relatively clean record; his only other recorded criminal offense was a DUI in 2009, in which he plea-bargained it down to reckless driving. But it seems to be a mockery of justice that a man can actually point a gun at an Alaska State Trooper and get probation, while a couple of militia guys get charged and convicted of conspiracy to murder merely for talking about pointing guns at law enforcement officers. It reinforces the perception that the Schaeffer Cox militia trial was more a political trial than a criminal trial.
One person was unhappy with the deal for a different reason:
flammablepudding June 23, 2012 (News-Miner):
Are you kidding me? I can point a gun at a trooper and get off, but if I smoke a little pot, they throw the book at me. What the hell? What are the priorities of our local court system when people can commit crimes with firearms and not be judged as harshly as those who commit nonviolent "crimes?" Seriously, this makes me mad. Judges, D.A.'s: DO YOUR JOBS. I'm sick of hearing about all the real criminals getting off while you all have me tied up in a bunch of nonsense. Things like this are the reason people hate the man.