Rural Alaska

Barrow fire chief killed by North Slope Borough police officer

Update, 12:20 p.m. Saturday: North Slope Borough officials have identified the officer involved in the shooting as Sgt. James Michels, a nine-year veteran of the North Slope Borough Police Department.

Original story: Barrow's volunteer fire department chief, a nephew of a state lawmaker, was fatally shot in an incident involving a North Slope Borough police officer early Wednesday, according to borough officials.

Vincent Nageak III, 36, of Barrow, nephew of state Rep. Ben Nageak, was identified by the borough as the dead man. The officer was not injured, officials said.

"I just want to let people know that we lost a son who was a good citizen in Barrow," said Roy Nageak Sr., Vincent Nageak's father.

At 3:38 a.m. Wednesday, a North Slope Borough police officer was responding to a call for officer assistance at the 7400 block of North Star Street in Barrow, North Slope Borough spokesman John Boyle wrote in a statement. Nageak lived on that block, according to voter registration records.

A shooting occurred and Nageak was killed, according to Boyle.

Boyle said the name of the officer involved will be withheld for 72 hours, a policy used by many Alaska law enforcement agencies.


Roy Nageak Sr. said the family was getting conflicting information as to what happened.

"There's so much misinformation right now," he said when reached by phone Wednesday. "I told (my family) to lay low until the proof is out."

Nageak had four children, including twins who are three years old, Nageak Sr. said. "He just had a beautiful family." He was a military veteran and had lost his best friend from the Army to suicide six months ago, Roy Nageak Sr. said.

Except for his time in the military, Vincent Nageak had lived in Barrow his entire life, his father said. He was active with the Borough Volunteer Fire Department and had helped with fundraising efforts for the organization.

North Slope Borough Fire Department dispatchers said Nageak was the chief of the Barrow Volunteer Fire Department, upgraded from an acting capacity as listed on the borough department's website.

Sen. Donny Olson learned of the shooting when he arrived at his Juneau office Wednesday morning and had to deliver the news to Rep. Ben Nageak. Nageak's district on the North Slope and Northwest Arctic comprises half of Olson's larger Senate district.

"Unfortunately, this is Ben's favorite nephew," Olson said in a speech on the Senate floor.

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Nageak said he and his family were working to understand what happened in Barrow.

"Our hearts and minds are still reeling from the news that's been trickling in about my nephew Vincent and my brother Roy," Nageak wrote. "We still don't know all of the facts. We're trying to get home to be near and find out what happened. Thank you to those who've expressed their support and prayers for our family during this emotional time. We ask for privacy, patience and continued prayers. We hope to talk soon, but want to do so with a better understanding of just what took place."

Alaska State Troopers were en route to Barrow Wednesday to investigate. Once troopers complete their investigation, it will be forwarded for review to Rob Henderson, an attorney at the Alaska Office of Special Prosecutions, Henderson said Wednesday afternoon.

Alaska Dispatch News reporters Nathaniel Herz and Laurel Andrews contributed information to this story.

Chris Klint

Chris Klint is a former ADN reporter who covered breaking news.

Laurel Andrews

Laurel Andrews was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Dispatch. She left the ADN in October 2018.