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FBI mum on Kodiak Coast Guard shooting deaths

Posted: April 17, 2012 - 12:02am

ANCHORAGE — Four days after two men were gunned down at a Coast Guard air station on Kodiak Island, the FBI is releasing few details of the investigation other that reassurances that the adjacent community is not in danger.

“There’s very little we can say about the investigation, trying to maintain the integrity of the investigation,” said spokesman Eric Gonzalez in Anchorage. “We’re not in a position where we can disclose more.”

The FBI is the lead investigative agency in the shooting deaths Thursday of Petty Officer 1st Class James Hopkins, 41, an electronics technician from Vergennes, Vt., and Richard Belisle, 51, a former chief petty officer who continued service to the Coast Guard as a civilian employee.

Another worker found their bodies shortly after their shifts began at the station, which monitors radio traffic from ships and planes.

Coast Guard spokeswoman Charly Hengen said Monday that the men’s bodies were found in building T2, known as the Rigger Shop.

“This building is used to maintain communications equipment such as the antennas by Communication station personnel,” she said by email.

The Rigger Shop is near the main Communication Station building, she said. Since the shooting, she said, barricades have been erected and access restricted to the crime scene. She said she did not know the level of security before the shootings, which is part of the investigation.

Gonzalez said there is no indication the homicides were related to terrorism, and he was not aware of anything in the building that would be the target of thieves. Gonzales said he couldn’t comment on whether the men were targeted or the victims of a random shooting, or whether investigators have recovered a weapon.

“We’re not disclosing evidence in the case, the evidence we’ve collected,” he said.

He also would not elaborate on why officials believe the combined 13,000 residents of the base and the Kodiak area are not directly threatened.

“No suspect is in custody, but based on the investigation to date, there’s no credible evidence that the community as a whole is in any danger,” he said.

Coast Guard officials scheduled a town hall meeting for 7 p.m. Monday to field questions regarding the homicides.

“We are advocating the message that the FBI did tell us, that there’s no reason to believe that anyone is at risk. So we want to get that safety message out to the community, and also to let them voice their concerns,” Hengen said.

The Coast Guard plans to host a memorial service for the men at 1 p.m. Wednesday in an air station hangar.

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