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Rural Alaska

Actor suspected of shooting hunters pleads not guilty

  • Author: Hannah Heimbuch
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published October 11, 2012

Teddy Smith, 45, of Kiana, pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and other charges at his court arraignment in Nome, Alaska, last week. His bail is set at $500,000, and his trial is set for January.

A series of incidents involving Smith began when his mother, 74-year-old Dolly Smith, passed away at her home Sept. 7. Alaska State Troopers marked the respected Kiana woman's death as suspicious, but have yet to elaborate on what exactly that means.

According to trooper reports, Teddy Smith, known outside his hometown for playing one of the lead roles in the feature film "On the Ice," was intoxicated and armed while at his mother's house on the day she died. When first responders arrived, Smith fired a gun toward a group of people. A warrant was issued for his arrest on assault and weapons misconduct charges, and the troopers initiated an investigation into Dolly Smith's passing.

Smith was not seen again until nearly two weeks later.

According to trooper reports, Charles Buckel, Jr., 47, of Michigan, and Paul Buckel, 46, of Kotzebue, arrived at a small cabin upriver from Kiana on a Tuesday evening in late September. They found another man already there, but the interaction did not turn troubling until an hour after the men arrived.

The man, later identified by troopers as Teddy Smith, shot Charles Buckel in the chest, then ordered Paul to load the hunters' raft with their gear. Smith departed with the two men's transportation and hunting equipment, shooting Paul Buckel in the shoulder before he left.

The injured men were able to radio for help from a VHF in the cabin. Troopers responded at daylight the next day to medevac both men out for medical attention.

Later that day, the Buckels' inflatable raft was spotted from the air five miles downriver from the cabin. Troopers from Kotzebue convened in Kiana with members of the Special Emergency Reaction Team, and community members familiar with the area. They staged both air and water craft approximately 16 miles from Kiana, up the Squirrel River.

Smith faces attempted murder, theft and robbery charges as a result of that confrontation. The two brothers are reportedly recovering from their wounds.

Contact Hannah Heimbuch at hheimbuch(at) This article was originally published in The Arctic Sounder and is reprinted here with permission.

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