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FBI quiet on details of killings on Kodiak's Coast Guard base

Dan Joling

Four days after two men were gunned down at a Coast Guard air station on Kodiak Island, area residents told Coast Guard officials they're frustrated by a lack of information and skeptical of official assurances that they are not in danger.

About 150 people turned out for a Monday night community meeting where Coast Guard officials and Kodiak leaders fielded questions.

The FBI is the lead investigative agency in last Thursday's shooting deaths. The Kodiak Daily Mirror reports that no one from the FBI answered questions at the meeting.

Resident Rick Rowland asked the island's highest ranking Coast Guard official why citizens should believe they're safe.

"The FBI has no credible evidence of threat to the community," replied Capt. Karl Moore, commander of Coast Guard Base Support Unit Kodiak. "I trust them and have to believe that they can make a thorough recommendation based on facts."

Moore also told the crowd, "I don't have answers, I don't have specifics, but we've got to have faith as a community."

"I feel uncomfortable with the lack of information," said area resident Gilbert Smith. "The Coast Guard said it's safe, but we've been lied to by the government before. I called the FBI and they told me to watch CNN."

Recounting what he learned from the 90-minute community meeting, Kodiak resident Dan Raymond told the newspaper, "They stood up and said, 'Tell your kids the truth' and when we asked them what the truth was, they said, 'We don't know anything.'"

The FBI is releasing few details of the investigation other than assurances that the adjacent community is not in danger.

"There's very little we can say about the investigation, trying to maintain the integrity of the investigation," FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez in Anchorage told The Associated Press earlier Monday. "We're not in a position where we can disclose more."

Killed Thursday were Petty Officer 1st Class James Hopkins, 41, an electronics technician from Vergennes, Vt., and Richard Belisle, 51, a former chief petty officer who continued service to the Coast Guard as a civilian employee.

Another worker found their bodies shortly after their shifts began at the station, which monitors radio traffic from ships and planes.

Coast Guard spokeswoman Charly Hengen said Monday that the men's bodies were found in building T2, known as the Rigger Shop.

"This building is used to maintain communications equipment such as the antennas by Communication station personnel," she said by email.

The Rigger Shop is near the main Communication Station building, she said. Since the shooting, she said, barricades have been erected and access restricted to the crime scene. She said she did not know the level of security before the shootings, which is part of the investigation.

Gonzalez said there is no indication the homicides were related to terrorism, and he was not aware of anything in the building that would be the target of thieves. Gonzales said he couldn't comment on whether the men were targeted or the victims of a random shooting, or whether investigators have recovered a weapon.

"We're not disclosing evidence in the case, the evidence we've collected," he said.

He also would not elaborate on why officials believe the combined 13,000 residents of the base and the Kodiak area are not directly threatened.

"No suspect is in custody, but based on the investigation to date, there's no credible evidence that the community as a whole is in any danger," he said.

The Coast Guard plans to host a memorial service for the men at 1 p.m. Wednesday in an air station hangar.


By DAN JOLING
Associated Press