by KTNA Staff ~ October 30th, 2010
Alaska State Troopers responded to reports of a gunshot at 9:15 Friday evening at the Latitude 62 in Talkeetna.
Dirk Fast, age 53, of Talkeetna was shot and killed inside the restaurant bar.
The Latitude, known as a family restaurant and local hang-out is also the host of concerts throughout the winter. Many nationally recognized artists have played there over the years. Well-known vocal artist Cheryl Wheeler was performing in concert when the shooting occurred. She was performing in front of a sold out crowd, and the packed house of northern valley residents heard the shot from the adjacent room.
Troopers were called and the Talkeetna ambulance responded to the scene. Fast was pronounced dead at the scene. Reporter John Moses, owner of the Alaska Pioneer Press, was one of those at the scene and described it as traumatic, especially for those that were friends of the victim. According to second hand accounts, there was no argument. *They appeared to have a friendly conversation. Bartender Ruby Fortner looked up when the shot was fired and saw Fast fall to the floor. Clark said “the f…. killed my family” and he left the bar via the back door. *
Troopers caught a suspect on the Talkeetna Spur Road within 15 minutes of the call. Talkeetna resident Samuel Clark, age 40, is charged with first degree murder in connection with Fast’s death. He has been remanded to Mat Su Pretrial where his bail is set at $500,000, plus a third party custody requirement.
Latitude owner, Nancy Trump, declined to talk about the incident, leaving it to the AK Bureau of Investigations to do their work. Her establishment is closed until Monday.
Mike Sterling, neighbor of Fast, described him as generous to a fault, a devout Christian who loved his son more than anything. Fast’s adult son and wife are expecting a baby soon and Fast was thrilled about becoming a grandfather. Sterling said Fast loved fishing as much as he did his son and would be fishing every day if he could. Others that knew him well describe him the same way and say he was full of humor, great to kid around with and that he loved the fishing and hunting life.
Fast was a union longshoreman and made his living unloading ships in Anchorage, but spent the majority of his time at his cabin in Talkeetna.
People who know the suspect, say he had challenging mental issues. Those that were in the bar have said that the words that the suspect spoke to Fast as he pulled the trigger made no sense. Some that know both men say that Fast was an innocent victim of senseless crime.
The case has been turned over to the Alaska Bureau of Investigations, the unit that handles major crimes in Alaska.
Editors Notes: Concert goers were kept for about an hour inside the concert hall while EMTs and Troopers attended to the crime scene in the adjacent room. Some saw the suspect run out the back door, but didnt know exactly what had happened. There were several eyewitnesses to the crime. The Troopers have a list of over 40 people that were at the concert and inside the bar when the crime occurred. We leave out all eye witness names for the sake of the investigation.
*the story has been corrected to reflect Trooper and investigators findings.