Arrest in 2012 Alaska Coast Guard base deaths

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — An Alaska man was arrested Friday in last year’s shooting deaths at a Coast Guard communications station on Kodiak Island that left two employees dead, the U.S. attorney said.

James Michael Wells of Kodiak is accused in a federal murder complaint of killing Petty Officer 1st Class James Hopkins and retired Chief Boatswain’s Mate Richard Belisle on April 12.

Another Coast Guard member found the victims shortly after the two would have arrived for work at the station, which monitors radio traffic from ships and planes. Their bodies were found in the rigger building, where antennas are repaired.

The Kodiak Island Coast Guard base is home to cutters, helicopters and rescue swimmers that aid mariners in the Bering Sea and Pacific Ocean.

FBI agents immediately flew to Kodiak Island from Anchorage, about 250 miles away, to investigate the case as a double homicide.

Few details were released in the weeks after the deaths, although FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez in Anchorage said shortly after the murders that there was “no credible evidence” that the community was in danger. He also said there was no indication the homicides were related to terrorism.

Wells’ arrest came after “an extensive investigation” led by the FBI and the Coast Guard Investigative Service, with support from the Alaska State Troopers, U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler said in a statement.

Wells is expected to appear in court next week in Anchorage, Loeffler said.

No one was immediately reachable by phone Friday evening at the U.S. attorney’s office to provide additional details.

Hopkins, 41, was an electronics technician from Vergennes, Vt. Belisle, 51, was a former chief petty officer who continued service to the Coast Guard as a civilian employee.

Reached by telephone Friday evening, Gonzalez declined to discuss specifics of the case, saying the complaint and underlying affidavit are under court seal. He said he expected those documents to be unsealed next week.

Gonzalez declined to comment on a possible motive, what led investigators to focus on Wells or whether any other arrests were expected.

“I just can’t comment on anything about this case,” he said.

In their jobs with the Coast Guard, Belisle and Hopkins were involved with the installation, maintenance, repair and management of electronic equipment.

Approximately 60 enlisted personnel and civilians work at the base’s communications station. That’s a small fraction of the estimated 4,000 Guardsmen, families and civilian employees at the Kodiak Island base, the service’s largest in the nation.

More in Local News

Turkey talk: Kindergartners explain the Thanksgiving holiday

Our annual pilgrimage led us this year to Pathfinder Kindergarten Center in Everett.

Police locate suspect in Snohomish River after he fled

They used a thermal-imaging camera to locate the man in the water near Dagmars Marina.

Electrical fire on roof of Marysville school extinguished

There was no apparent structural damage to Cascade Elementary School.

As police closed in, 2 heavily armed pot-shop robbers fled

Cops surrounded the place in Mountlake Terrace. The suspects were tracked by dogs and apprehended nearby.

Hiker rescued on Boulder River trail after 15-foot fall

She was reported to have possible leg and rib fractures.

Alleged philanderer attacked with hammer near Everett

His girlfriend had accused him of cheating and allegedly called on another man to confront him.

State waging war with tenacious ivy, an invasive ‘bully’

The public is being asked to help with a study by collecting and sending in samples.

Front Porch

EVENTS Holiday lights parade in Monroe Monroe will host a Holiday Lights… Continue reading

Most Read