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Police halt Unalaska riot following stabbing

Jim PaulinDutch Harbor Fisherman
A bloody and riotous night saw one fisherman arrested for stabbing his roommate and a local police officer drawing her gun to disperse a menacing crowd of the victim’s friends seeking immediate and violent revenge on the deck of the factory trawler Alaska Juris last week. The vessel was anchored in Captains Bay, Unalaska. Jim Paulin photo

DUTCH HARBOR -- A bloody and riotous night saw one fisherman arrested for stabbing his roommate and a local police officer drawing her gun to disperse a menacing crowd of the victim’s friends seeking immediate and violent revenge on the deck of the factory trawler Alaska Juris last week, according to local police.

The vessel was anchored in Captains Bay, Unalaska, according to local police.

Wayland A. Smith, 47, is charged with first degree assault for stabbing Tupou Manaea and tampering with evidence for throwing the knife overboard, according to police. Manaea was airlifted to Anchorage by the Coast Guard with life-threatening injuries.

“Manaea was observed to have multiple deep stab wounds on his left arm, as well as a deep stab wound to the buttocks and abdomen. Manaea was heavily sedated due to the severity of his injuries, and was unable to provide any statements,” according to a court document.

Manaea, however, recovered sufficiently in an Anchorage hospital to give statements to a local police officer who was in town on other business, said Unalaska deputy police chief Michael Holman.

Steve Tarabochia, captain of the vessel owned by the Fishing Company of Alaska, told police he saw Smith on the deck of the wheelhouse with a knife and saw him throw it overboard. Vessel safety coordinator Richard Jennings reported asking Smith why he tossed the knife.

“He stated he had been through an incident like this before with the police and knew that it could be used against him, so he disposed of it,” Tarabochia said.

At his arraignment in Unalaska court last Friday, assistant district attorney James Klugman requested a bail of $100,000, and the condition of a third party custodian, which the court granted. Klugman said Smith has a “significant” criminal history in various states, including California and Utah. 

Smith, a resident of Wenatchee, Wash., told the court he has a wife and two children in the Philippines, and has only earned about $11,000 this year. He requested a public defender. The magistrate appointed Anchorage lawyer Alex Foote, who was in town for another case, and who briefly met with the handcuffed defendant in the courtroom.

At the time of the incident at about 9:30 p.m., the factory trawler was offloading frozen groundfish onto the cargo vessel Pohon while anchored in the middle of Captains Bay. Another crewmember told police that the fight broke out after deckboss Manaea told Smith to leave the cargo hold because he wasn’t keeping up with the work. Smith went up to the top deck and argued with Manaea, who was in the hold.

“Manaea climbed out of the hole, and followed Smith into the gear room,” witness Samuel Johnson told police. “A short time later, Johnson heard a crewmember from the neighboring vessel Pohon yell ‘fight’.”

The police investigation indicated that a warning sign appeared earlier in the day, when Smith told the captain,“I need to get off this boat because I don’t want to have to stab the guy.”

Two other crewmembers were arrested on assault and riot charges after they tried to get at the handcuffed Smith, who was in the custody of two local police officers, Holman said. He described a “pretty tense situation,” one that was “definitely dangerous for the police as well as the crew.”

Taylor Toelupe, 27, of Van Duren, Mo., and Tuala Meafou, 23, of Pago Pago, American Samoa both face riot charges. Additionally, Toelupe is charged with felony third-degree assault for brandishing a metal pipe, while Meafou is charged with misdemeanor fourth-degree assault because he didn’t have a weapon, Holman said.

Riot is defined in state law as “participating with five or more others ... the person engages in tumultuous and violent conduct in a public place and thereby causes or creates a substantial risk of causing damage to property or physical injury to a person.”

Holman said between five and eight friends of the stabbing victim were involved in the riot, but only the two  were charged. Both were released on bail, he said. They were arrested two days later, while the Seattle-based vessel was tied up at a dock here.

“The men’s behavior and posturing strongly suggested that had no police officers been present, they would have attacked Smith. Toelupe brandished a metal pipe and threatened Smith with it,” according to police.

The angry crowd dispersed only after Sgt. Jennifer Shockley drew her gun and the other officer drew his Taser after the crewmen refused multiple requests to back off.

“The crowd continued to advance, trying to get around the officers to get at Smith. The crowd eventually obeyed commands to disperse and left the area. Toelupe was later interviewed and asked what his intentions were. Toelupe stated he intended to “knock his (Smith’s) teeth out with the pipe.”

This article first appeared in the Bristol Bay Times-Dutch Harbor Fisherman. Used by permission.