Rural Alaska

Charging document: North Slope Borough official was killed by stepson

A North Slope Borough official shot to death in his home last week was killed by his stepson after an alcohol-fueled fistfight, according to a charging document filed in Barrow District Court Wednesday.

Robert Clark, a 20-year-old who goes by Bobby, called borough police and said, "I shot my stepdad," according to the charging document.

His stepfather was Billy Jens Leavitt, son of Oliver Leavitt, a whaling captain, former chairman of Arctic Slope Regional Corp. and one of the most prominent Native leaders on the North Slope.

Billy Leavitt was the borough's search-and-rescue coordinator at the time of his death a week ago.

Now Clark is charged with second-degree murder.

Around 5:15 a.m. on Sept. 22, Clark called borough dispatch from a neighbor's home to report the shooting. He walked out with his hands up, his nose bloody.

"I just got punched a lot," he told a sergeant who had asked if he was hurt. "I grabbed a gun. I feared for my life. I shot him."

He later said that he didn't mean to shoot. He said he was afraid so he loaded the gun, but called the shooting an accident, the charging document filed by assistant district attorney Johnny Hayes said.

The pistol was on the floor of the house, he told officers, according to the document. Officers found a Smith & Wesson .500-caliber revolver near the body.

Clark's mother is Doreen Leavitt, the borough's health director. She and Amber Downey, Clark's girlfriend, were in the home as the father and son began fighting, they later told borough police. When the fight continued into a hallway, the women decided to leave.

Doreen Leavitt told police that Clark had come home with an opened bottle of R & R whiskey, which she poured out. He was taken to the hospital after his arrest and his blood-alcohol level was determined to be .194, or more than double the legal limit for driving.

Her husband came home about 15 minutes after her son and he too had been drinking, Leavitt told police.

Her son told police something different.

"I came home and my mom was drunk. My mom came home and started raising hell with me and then Billy came home and started raising hell," the charging document quotes Clark as saying.

The father and stepson started to fight. Doreen Leavitt said she didn't get between them because she didn't want to get hit. At one point, Downey tried to calm her boyfriend down and took him into the garage for a cigarette.

When Clark grabbed a shotgun, Downey told police, she went after him and pulled out the drum magazine, throwing it into the yard. Police later found it there.

Doreen Leavitt tried to return home after less than an hour. By then her husband had been shot.

Lisa Demer

Lisa Demer was a longtime reporter for the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Dispatch News. Among her many assignments, she spent three years based in Bethel as the newspaper's western Alaska correspondent. She left the ADN in 2018.