Two shot dead at US Coastguard base13/04/2012 - 07:20:22
Two US Coast Guard members were shot dead at a communications station on an island off Alaska in what officials said appeared to be a double murder. They have yet to identify a suspect.
The victims were found at their work areas inside the Kodiak Island station early yesterday by another coastguard member, spokeswoman Sara Francis said.
Officials believe a third person was involved in the shooting, she said, adding that the rest of the roughly 60 enlisted personnel and civilians working at the station had been accounted for.
Capt Jesse Moore, commanding officer of the coastguard base on Kodiak, said the shootings probably occurred some time between 7 and 8am, soon after the victims arrived for work inside one of the communication station buildings.
The captain said he was not aware of any threats or anything else that might have indicated problems at the station. The station is equipped with security cameras, but it was not yet known if they captured any evidence, he said.
Capt Moore said the base was “deeply saddened” by the loss of two shipmates.
“This is a tragic event and we are going to do everything we can to look after the families of victims, to take care of them and to protect the residents and citizens and other coastguard employees in Kodiak,” he said.
After the shooting, security was increased at the base, about eight miles from the island’s largest city of Kodiak. Officials called on the city’s 6,300 residents to remain calm and vigilant.
Ms Francis said added security was in place at the base and an adjacent school.
The station listens for radio transmissions from mariners and aircraft, Petty Officer Charly Hengen said. The staff are responsible for relaying distress calls to other coastguard stations and offices.
The station has “secure front doors,” Ms Hengen said, and requires staff and visitors to show identification. Ms Francis said visitors and those not actually working at the station were usually provided escorts.
The coastguard said the victims’ identities would be released after family members were notified.
The FBI said agents flew to Kodiak from Anchorage, about 250 miles away.
Rear Admiral Thomas Ostebo, the commander of Coast Guard operations in Alaska, was in New London, Connecticut, for a conference at the Coast Guard Academy but left ahead of schedule and could not be reached for comment.
The shooting comes almost 11 years after another fatal attack involving the coastguard on another Alaska island, St Paul, about 660 miles west of the city of Kodiak.
A man killed a coastguard officer whom he believed was having an affair with his estranged wife.
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