Crime & Courts

Troopers: Kenai Peninsula man assaulted trooper for 20 minutes before fatal shooting

The Nikolaevsk man killed by a state trooper Saturday in the Kenai Peninsula village assaulted another trooper for 20 minutes before he was shot, the Alaska Department of Public Safety said.

Nikolai Yakunin, 42, refused to cooperate with Trooper Luke Kumfer — a seven-year veteran of the agency — after Kumfer responded to a Nikolaevsk home, troopers said in a dispatch late Tuesday. Yakunin was reportedly in contact with a woman in violation of a felony condition of his release from jail.

Kumfer arrived at the Old Believer village of some 350 people about five hours after the agency received the original report.

Yakunin "became extremely threatening" toward Kumfer, troopers say. The trooper radioed for backup, fired his Taser and hit Yakunin with pepper spray as his aggression escalated.

Yakunin attacked, knocking Kumfer off a porch and injuring him, troopers said. Yakunin continued to attack Kumfer on the ground for about 20 minutes.

Troopers Sgt. Daniel Cox arrived and shot Yakunin to stop the assault, troopers said.

Kumfer is out of the hospital and recovering from his injuries, the agency said.


Yakunin's father, an Old Believer leader also named Nikolai, told Homer radio station KBBI that his son wasn't armed with a gun though he "might have had a pipe or something."

The father was leading a church service when he learned his son had been shot dead at his own house, he told the station. He questioned the trooper's decision to shoot.

As part of the investigation into the incident, the Alaska Bureau of Investigation will determine what, if any, items Yakunin had in his possession and whether he used it as a weapon, troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said in an email Wednesday.

No additional information was available beyond what was published in the online dispatch, Peters said.

The state Department of Law's Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals is investigating the use of deadly force, troopers say. That office will determine whether the troopers' actions were within the law.

The Department of Public Safety will review any findings to determine whether the actions were in accordance with department policy.

Yakunin was convicted of two domestic-violence assaults in 2015 and three assaults last year, according to a state courts database.

He was on felony probation for one third-degree assault case and failed to report to his Kenai probation officer for a scheduled visit March 22, according to Sherrie Daigle, a spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Corrections.

That triggered a "stop, hold and arrest" order issued Friday, Daigle said. A trooper running his name through a background check system would have seen the order, she said.

Zaz Hollander

Zaz Hollander is a veteran journalist based in the Mat-Su and is currently an ADN local news editor and reporter. She covers breaking news, the Mat-Su region, aviation and general assignments. Contact her at