Crime & Courts

Russian Mission man shot to death in his home, Alaska State Troopers say

A 46-year-old resident of the Yukon River village of Russian Mission died Monday in a shooting at his home, Alaska State Troopers said.

Richard Pitka, a 45-year-old Russian Mission resident, is facing charges of second-degree murder in the shooting. Patrick Changsak was pronounced dead at the village clinic Monday evening, according to a criminal complaint filed with charges.

A witness said he saw Pitka go to Changsak’s home holding a rifle with a wooden stock and heard two gunshots, one as Pitka was on the porch and the next 10 seconds later, according to a sworn affidavit filed by troopers investigator Eric Pavil.

Troopers said bad weather delayed them from flying immediately to the village. Pitka was held at the public safety building until they arrived.

Pitka told the investigator that he went to Changsak’s home to drop off the rifle and it “just went off” as he was sitting in a chair and not holding the gun, Pavil wrote. The trooper found that to fire the weapon, the hammer had to be cocked back and pressure applied to a safety and trigger, according to the affidavit.

The investigator observed a single gunshot wound in Changsak’s lower leg, he wrote.

The motive for the shooting is still under investigation, troopers spokesman Austin McDaniel said Thursday.


Pitka was in custody at Yukon Kuskokwim Correctional Center as of Thursday. The public defender representing him declined to comment on the case when reached by phone.

Russian Mission, a village of just over 400 residents, is located about 70 miles northeast of Bethel.