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Suspect arrested in double homicide at Alaska Coast Guard station

Suzanna CaldwellAlaska Dispatch News
The city of Kodiak, population 6,100, is the largest community on Kodiak Island, the second largest island in the U.S. May 7, 2012.
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Toy soldiers, anonymously placed around downtown Kodiak in the wake of the coast guard killings of April 12, 2012. Photographed on May 9, 2012.
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Ryan Harris, a bartender at the military-friendly "Bernie's" in Kodiak on May 6, 2012. Because of the supporting nature of the Coast Guard's mission, the community is well-integrated and there is little conflict.
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The rigging shop, part of the Coast Guard's Kodiak Base Communication Station, was the scene of a double murder on April 12, 2012. The main building is secure. The rigging shop is less so. Photographed May 7, 2012.
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Coast Guardsmen aboard the buoy tender Spar, in dock at the Coast Guard base in Kodiak, on May 7, 2012.
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The Coast Guard base in Kodiak, Alaska, May 7, 2012.
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Kodiak Police Chief T.C. Kamai says that he and his officers are standing by, ready to assist in the investigation. So far they have not had an opportunity to do so. May 9, 2012.
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Kodiak's harbor was full of fishing boats getting ready to leave on May 9, 2012.
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Ken "Dawg" Carlson, a longliner, was preparing to leave Kodiak to fish for halibut on May 8, 2012. He has been fishing for the past 29 years.
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Residents of the Bells Flats neighborhood are concerned that there is an unsolved double murder on the island. Their children still play in the neighborhood but things aren't as they were. May 7, 2012.
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Coast Guardsmen repair a helicopter at the Coast Guard Base Kodiak on May 7, 2012.
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Customers at Henry's Restaurant in Kodiak play pull tabs. May 7, 2012.
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Notices, mainly posted by people looking for work in the fishing industry, adorn a wall at Harborside Coffee on May 9, 2012.
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A memorial remembering Richard Belisle at the Rendezvous Bar in the Bells Flats neighborhood of Kodiak, May 9, 2012. Belisle was a regular at the bar.
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Patrons play pool at the Rendezvous bar in the Bells Flats neighborhood of Kodiak. One of the victims of the April 12, 2012 shootings, Richard Belisle, was a regular at the bar.
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A Russian Orthodox graveyard overlooks the city of Kodiak on May 9, 2012.
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The home of Richard and Nicola Belisle, foreground, looks across to Jim and Nancy Wells' home on May 9, 2012. Belisle and James Hopkins were killed on April 12, 2012. The FBI has not named a suspect. Wells' home and property have been searched. The FBI shortly after the shooting asked the public for information on two vehicles that match the description of those belonging to the Wells.
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After months of silence, federal investigators announced the arrest of a man suspected of killing two men on Alaska's remote Kodiak Island in April 2012.

James Michael Wells of Kodiak was arrested Friday for the murder of U.S. Coast Guard Electrician’s Mate First Class James Hopkins, 41, and retired Chief Boatswain’s Mate Richard Belisle, 51, according to a short, late Friday night press release from the Alaska U.S. District Attorney's office.

Ten months ago the two men were found shot dead while working at the Kodiak Coast Guard station. Investigators -- including the FBI, Coast Guard and Alaska State Troopers -- remained tight-lipped throughout the process, offering few details until Friday.

Kodiak is a small, isolated Alaska community -- population 6,000 -- 250 miles southwest of Anchorage, Alaska's largest city.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Wells was arrested under a federal arrest warrant based on a criminal complaint. He is scheduled to appear in Anchorage court next week.

Contact Suzanna Caldwell at suzanna(at)alaskadispatch.com

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