Crime & Courts

Kotlik man charged with murder and manslaughter after April shooting

A 54-year-old man was arrested Tuesday on charges of murder and manslaughter that resulted from a fatal shooting at his Western Alaska home in April, Alaska State Troopers said.

Ralph Waska had been drinking with 49-year-old Yago Pitka at Pitka’s home in Kotlik on the night of April 14, according to charges filed last week by prosecutors. The two men went to Waska’s house and eventually began to fight, the charges said.

Waska told Pitka to leave after the fight, and when he didn’t, Waska got his 20-gauge shotgun and loaded it with one shell of birdshot, the charges stated. Waska said Pitka threatened him, assumed “a fighting stance” and began to walk toward him, according to the charges.

Waska pulled the trigger and shot Pitka, the charges said.

About 20 minutes later, Waska called his daughter and told her what happened, the charges said. She called troopers around 8 a.m. April 15, troopers wrote in an online report at the time. Poor weather prevented troopers from flying to Kotlik from Bethel until the next day, troopers said.

Troopers found Pitka dead on the floor of Waska’s residence with two apparent gunshot wounds, the charges said.

Results from a blood sample test showed Waska was intoxicated, and the autopsy report was completed in August, the charges said.

Waska was arrested Tuesday afternoon on one count of manslaughter and two charges of second-degree murder, troopers said. He was being held on a $250,000 bail at the Yukon Kuskokwim Correctional Center, according to troopers.

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