Less info means more fear after Coast Guard deaths

Associated Press Modified: April 13, 2012 at 9:01 pm •  Published: April 13, 2012
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Fear that a killer was on the loose spread among residents of an island off Alaska's mainland Friday, with no suspect identified more than 24 hours after someone shot to death two people at a Coast Guard communications station.

"We don't have stuff like that happen here," said Wendy Cavender, a bartender at the B&B bar in Kodiak, a city about eight miles from the Coast Guard base on Kodiak Island. "All anybody knows is that there is a shooter and that person might still be at large."

The rest of the roughly 60 enlisted personnel and civilians who work at the communications station have been accounted for, Coast Guard spokeswoman Sara Francis said. 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.

People coming on base — including known cab drivers bringing people there — have to show photo identification to guards to gain access. Visitors are usually provided escorts while on base.

The lack of information about what happened was making residents jumpy, said Cavender, whose bar is popular with fishermen. Many were on the verge of arming themselves.

"I just think they need to release all the information they have so people don't get crazy and paranoid, which might lead to violence," Cavender said.

The Coast Guard on Friday identified the two victims as Richard Belisle and Petty Officer 1st Class James Hopkins. Belisle, 51, lived in Kodiak and was a retired Coast Guard chief petty officer working at the base as a civilian employee. Hopkins, 41, was an electronics technician from Vergennes, Vt.

Another Coast Guard member found the victims Thursday morning shortly after the two would have arrived for work at the station, which monitors radio traffic from ships and planes.

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

"There is someone loose who murdered two people," said FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez, but he said there was no indication other people on the island were in any immediate danger.

Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said there was no indication of public danger. "People should remain vigilant in being aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity to local law enforcement or state troopers," she said.

Troopers already posted to Kodiak were assisting with the case as needed, but no additional troopers have been sent from Anchorage to help, she said.

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