Two employees at Icy Bay Lodge near Yakutat were arrested on assault charges Saturday after they got into a fight with two guests over their plans to start a mining operation in the area, Yakutat police said.
Both of the employees brandished weapons during the encounter, police said. No shots were fired and no one was injured.
A 911 call at 12:43 a.m. Saturday alerted troopers to a "possible assault involving a firearm and an ongoing disturbance" at the remote lodge, located 65 miles west of Yakutat, troopers said. An Alaska Wildlife Trooper and Yakutat police officer flew to the lodge once there was enough light, arriving just before 7 a.m.
Here's what they learned when they got there, Yakutat Police Chief Robert Baty said:
The employees -- 26-year-old Michael York, of Colorado, and 35-year-old Devon Fernandez, of Virginia -- got extremely intoxicated Friday night and decided to confront a male and female guest from California about "mining and its effects on Alaska," Baty said. The victims had not been drinking.
A physical altercation followed, then York left and came back with a Ruger Mini-14 rifle, he said. "At that point, of course, it became a felony assault."
York left but Fernandez returned with a 12-gauge shotgun and also pointed it at the victims, who were in the area "exploring the possibilities of mining," the chief said. Along with the victims, four other people witnessed the argument.
The lodge manager, the person who made the 911 call, talked both employees into going back to their cabin and made sure everybody was separated, Baty said.
Both men were initially arrested on third-degree assault charges, troopers said. Additional charges are pending including fourth-degree assault, evidence tampering and misconduct involving weapons.
York and Fernandez were arraigned in Yakutat and housed in temporary holding cells at the police station on $10,000 cash bonds, troopers and police said. They were expected to be transferred to Anchorage on Monday.
York and Fernandez are both featured in short bios on the lodge web site. York is described as a guide for the lodge who "has lived and breathed the outdoors from Alaska to Africa" and attended Colorado State University. Fernandez, called "captain" on the site, is described as a "seasoned Bush veteran" who came to Alaska in 2005 after tracking, trapping and hunting in the Lower 48.
The lodge was purchased by two new owners -- Marc Lenart and Todd Robertson, both Coloradans -- from founder Pete Grimm earlier this year, according to a lodge blog. Grimm completed construction on the lodge in 2010. Icy Bay offers guided fishing, hunting, birding, glacier tours and kayak adventures, the company says. June is a busy month for the lodge, with halibut and king salmon trips advertised through August.
Robertson, reached by phone Monday, said he couldn't provide any information on the incident because he wasn't at the lodge and hadn't been "briefed" yet before hanging up abruptly.
Other employees didn't return calls for comment.
Reach Zaz Hollander at email@example.com or 257-4317.
By ZAZ HOLLANDER