Crime & Courts

Aniak man sentenced to 50 years for fatal 2017 shooting spree

An Aniak man was sentenced Thursday to serve 50 years in prison for killing a man and wounding a woman during a shooting spree in the Southwest Alaska village more than five years ago.

Joseph Yaska, 34, pleaded guilty in July to second-degree murder and first-degree assault, according to Alaska Department of Law spokeswoman Patty Sullivan. Ten other felony charges, including first-degree murder, were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Yaska was intoxicated when he returned home early on Aug. 27, 2017, after watching a boxing match with friends, according to charges filed at the time. Prosecutors said he then assaulted his girlfriend and her friend before grabbing an AK-47 rifle.

Yaska shot his girlfriend twice as she ran away, according to prior reports. He aimed the gun at another person and shot into a home where, prosecutors said, three adults and two children were huddled together for safety.

Witnesses told troopers Yaska was then seen on his elevated porch shooting at a white pickup in which 24-year-old Bruce “Gotor” Morgan was sitting, prior reports said. Yaska was also seen closer to the truck firing into the passenger side, where Morgan was sitting.

Troopers found Morgan dead and said it appeared he had been shot several times.

Morgan’s parents addressed the court Thursday and said his death impacted their family, community and especially Morgan’s young son, the agency said. Yaska’s family also submitted letters to the court, and he apologized for his actions.

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 twilliams@adn.com.

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