Skagway Police Department (Emily Files)

A Skagway man who pled guilty to September armed confrontation with local police was sentenced in Juneau Superior Court this week.

Judge Phillip Pallenberg accepted a plea agreement, sentencing Eric Craig Estep on two counts related to the September incident.
According to charging documents, on September 29, Skagway police responded to Estep’s home after receiving reports he was suicidal, intoxicated, armed with guns and knives and requesting police to respond.

Police said Estep yelled he wanted officers to kill him before emerging from the residence and firing two shots from a shotgun. He surrendered after a brief standoff but both officers involved said they feared for their lives.

Estep pleaded guilty to one charge of assault in the third degree, admitting the offense was committed against a peace officer. For that charge, Estep was sentenced to 18 months with 12 months suspended and two years of probation. The conditions of his probation prevent Estep from owning or possessing a firearm or any other weapon capable of inflicting bodily harm. And, he may not consume alcohol.

He also pleaded guilty to misconduct involving a weapon in the fourth degree and was sentenced to an additional 30 days. That adds up to seven months in prison. He will have to forfeit the firearms used in the incident. Here’s Judge Pallenberg.

“I think the goal here is to have a sentence that’s going to give you some incentives to stay on top of your mental health issues,” said Pallenberg. “To get help if things start to go south for you.”

Estep received mental health treatment after the September incident. At the sentencing, Estep apologized for what happened and said he only did it because he wanted officers to shoot him. He said he was having problems with a medication at the time.

“Those guys wasn’t just some police officers with no name, I shop with them every day,” said Estep. “You know there’s only 600 of us that live in my town. I feel bad for that and I know going back up there they’re going to be nervous having me back. I’m sorry it all happened. On the good note, I’m glad they didn’t kill me now.”

He said he has an alcohol problem that he intends to seek treatment for. According to charging documents, Estep had admitted to consuming 16 beers before the shooting.

Pallenberg said if Estep had been killed in the incident, there would have been consequences for everyone involved.

“When we talk about suicide by cop, there’s a cost to that for the officer who’s put in that position and who has to make a hard decision,” said Pallenberg.

He said he didn’t believe Estep intended to hurt anyone but himself and was glad he did not succeed.