Crime & Courts

Man set fire to Northwest Alaska home after assaulting 2 people, charges say

A Shishmaref man intentionally set fire to his girlfriend’s home after beating her and her brother this week, according to a charging document filed in the case.

Just after midnight Sunday, 35-year-old Ward Kakoona was drinking at a friend’s house with his girlfriend and became angry, according to a sworn affidavit signed by Alaska State Trooper Kristen Benge. His girlfriend brought him to her home “in hopes he would go to sleep,” the affidavit said.

Kakoona instead became more agitated and eventually beat and choked her, according to the affidavit. When she broke free, the woman went to a neighbor’s home and called troopers for help, Benge wrote.

She went back to the home with her brother, but Kakoona then attacked the brother by punching, biting and choking him, according to the charging document filed Monday. Kakoona fled the home and escaped through the back window after he heard the village public safety officer and village police officer at the door, the affidavit said.

The woman and her brother were taken to the Shishmaref Clinic, and while they were being treated, a fire was reported at the house around 2:30 a.m., troopers wrote in an online report. No one was believed to be inside the home when the fire began, troopers said.

“The fire consumed the house and burnt it to the ground,” Benge wrote in the affidavit.

Ward told another man that he’d set the fire, the affidavit said.

He was arrested around 7 a.m. and is facing six charges of assault, second-degree arson, disorderly conduct, evidence tampering and driving under the influence.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and previously helped cover the Nebraska Legislature for The Associated Press. Contact her at