Crime & Justice

Suspect, victim identified in Selawik murder that led to standoff

An hours-long standoff in the Northwest Alaska community of Selawik began with the discovery of a 23-year-old man's body early in the morning and concluded with his accused killer surrendering to authorities Monday afternoon.

Christopher Cleveland, 39, faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of Wade Cleveland in the village of about 875 people.

Alaska State Troopers spokesperson Megan Peters said troopers "have not been made aware of any relationship" between the victim and suspect, despite the shared last name. A Selawik police patrolman reached Tuesday morning said the two were not related.

Wade Cleveland's body was discovered by a Selawik police patrolman early Monday, who told Alaska Dispatch News he was fired upon when he tried to move the young man's body.

Troopers said Christopher Cleveland barricaded himself alone inside his home after the shots were fired, and troopers responded from Kotzebue, roughly 70 miles away. He was taken into custody around 2:30 p.m., after the Southcentral Special Emergency Response Team arrived in Kotzebue, Peters said in an email.

"Suspect later advised he decided to come out peacefully after being told SERT arrived," Peters said.

Troopers are not yet identifying any possible motives for the shooting, Peters said, citing the ongoing investigation.


Peters said troopers suspect alcohol was a factor. Christopher Cleveland was taken to Anvil Mountain Correctional Center in Nome and was being held on the murder charge Tuesday.

Reporter Megan Edge contributed to this report.

Ben Anderson

Ben Anderson is a former writer and editor for Alaska Dispatch News. He left the ADN in 2017.