The Arctic Sounder

Shooting in Point Hope leaves 2 dead, 2 seriously injured

Two people died and two others were severely injured in a shooting in the North Slope community of Point Hope on Sunday night, according to charges filed Monday. The incident sent waves of grief, and concern for the families involved, through the tight-knit community of over 800 people.

A 16-year-old boy was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder in the first degree.

Borough officials said in a statement Monday morning: “The matter is still under investigation but we want to assure the public that there is NO ONGOING RISK to community safety. This was an isolated incident and the suspect is currently in custody.”

Tikigaq School officials posted on Facebook that school was canceled Monday “due to the tragedy in our community.” Beginning Tuesday, the school was made optional for the students in the community, according to the borough statement released Monday night.

“We acknowledge that our only school in our small community provides sometimes the only opportunity in the middle of winter for our K-12 children to see each other. During this time of loss, we want to provide a support system for our students who have grown up together,” borough officials said in the statement. “It is totally optional if you’d rather keep your kids home to hold, hug, and explain the circumstances to them.”

The North Slope Borough Fire Department planned to fly in Emergency Medical Services volunteers and staff to provide on-call services and alleviate the stress of local responders “who are most times closely related to those they are serving,” according to the borough statement.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy said on social media that he and his wife, Rose, “are devastated by the tragic shooting that occurred in Point Hope. Our hearts ache for the families and residents affected by this senseless act. We will continue to pray for healing and justice.”


The North Slope Borough Police Department responded to the shooting after 11:30 p.m. Sunday at a home in the western part of the town, according to a summary of a police report included in the charging documents filed in Kotzebue. Officers found a woman and a man dead and two men wounded, and all appeared to have been shot with a firearm, the summary said.

A witness told police she saw the boy entering the home and opening fire while others told police they saw him leave the scene with a handgun, the summary said.

Around 11:45 p.m., the teen and his father arrived at the local police station, the summary said. The boy, who was informed of his Miranda rights and interviewed by police while accompanied by his parents, said he shot the four adults, according to the summary.

Minors who are 16 or older and charged with a high-level felony, such as murder, may be waived into adult court, per state law.

The defendant on Tuesday made his first court appearance, where he was assigned a public defender who entered a guilty plea on his behalf. Bail was set at $1 million, plus a court-approved third-party custodian, and the next court hearing in the case is scheduled for March 8.

Multiple residents of Point Hope and neighboring villages described the shooting in interviews and social media posts. They expressed their support for the families involved.

“In the days ahead, we will come together as a community to heal and support one another,” the North Slope Borough said in its statement, adding that it was “offering our support and condolences to all impacted by this tragedy.”

The North Slope Health Department and Maniilaq Association were coordinating grief counseling services available to residents in need of support, the borough said.

Alena Naiden

Alena Naiden writes about communities in the North Slope and Northwest Arctic regions for the Arctic Sounder and ADN. Previously, she worked at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.