Idaho sheriff: Gunman fired first at authorities on I-90

SANDPOINT, Idaho — A gunman with a semi-automatic AK-47 rifle and another rifle fired first at police before officers shot back and took him into custody along an Idaho freeway, authorities said.

Police then provided medical aid to Marcus Anthony Rael, 24, of Glendale, Arizona, and likely saved his life, Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler said Wednesday.

“Rael began shooting at officers while pulling off the interstate,” Wheeler said. “After the truck he was driving came to a stop, Rael continued to fire at officers.”

Wheeler said Rael used an interstate barrier and his 2004 Nissan Titan truck equipped with steel tool boxes as cover as he shot at police.

Evidence shows Rael fired both weapons during the June 22 exchange on I-90 after police attempted to pull him over for suspected drunk driving, the sheriff said.

Rael fled and crashed in Post Falls near a police roadblock where authorities said he exchanged gunfire with six Coeur d’Alene police officers, three Post Falls officers, two Kootenai County deputies and an Idaho State Police trooper.

No officers were injured.

“They showed great courage that night and restraint, trying to de-escalate that scene,” Wheeler said. “If no one has ever been in a firefight or been shot at, you don’t understand how stressful that can be.”

The officers who fired were placed on administrative leave during a review of the shooting and are starting to return to work.

Rael is charged with felony eluding law enforcement. Authorities say additional charges are possible. He’s being held in the Kootenai County Jail on $1 million bail. The prosecutor’s office said Rael is being represented by defense attorney Sean Walsh. Walsh wasn’t immediately available Thursday.

Rael was initially taken to a hospital before being taken to jail. Police have not released the nature of his injuries.

A preliminary hearing is set for July 24.

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