Man arrested in Alaska Coast Guard base deaths

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 16, 2013 at 12:14 am •  Published: February 16, 2013
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — 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, 2012.

The arrested man worked with the victims, a Coast Guard spokeswoman confirmed.

"At the time of the incident, Jim Wells was actively employed as a civilian Coast Guard employee at the communications station," Coast Guard spokeswoman Sara Francis said late Friday from Kodiak. She said she didn't know his current employment status.

Francis referred all other questions about the case to the U.S. attorney's office, which didn't immediately return calls.

An Associated Press phone message left at a Kodiak phone number listed for Wells, 61, was not returned.

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.

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.

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