Law enforcement personnel from multiple agencies and states will gather in the small Tlingit village of Hoonah at 2 p.m. Wednesday for memorial services to honor slain Hoonah police officers Matthew Tokuoka and Anthony Wallace, according to village elder George Martin, 77, the father of officer Tokuoka's wife Haley.
"At one point it was going to be at the gym but they have changed that to the [Alaska Native Brotherhood] Hall," Martin said. "We are going to have a lot of law enforcement in town from all over the United States. I am pleased with all the help we are getting... all the well wishes and phone calls, we just appreciate everything. We are receiving flowers from all over, the townspeople have helped and a lot of people from all over are calling."
Alaska Marine Highway Systems Chief Communications Officer Roger Wetherell confirmed a special ferry sailing will be rerouted to handle some of the expected hundreds who will be gathering in Hoonah.
"We are going to add an additional journey to and from Hoonah. ... We have been working with other parties to pull this off," he said. "Most likely the boat will go from Juneau to Angoon to Hoonah, and then back through Angoon."
The state ferry service is trying to coordinate the sailing with Alaska Airlines flights in Juneau so that people wanting to make the trip will have the best chance to do so, Wetherell said.
Final information about travel arrangements to Hoonah will be posted on Alaska Marine Highway System's website at www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs, he said.
The bodies of Tokuoka and Wallace were to be cremated in Anchorage Wednesday and accompanied back to Hoonah by family members for the services.
Interim city Adminsitrator Bob Prunella said help has been welcomed from many neighboring communities and Alaska's vast wilderness and distances.
"We have had help from SEARHC and state troopers," he said. "The troopers have two chaplains here, Juneau police have their chaplain here. We had the counseling sessions all day yesterday and today."
Wrangell Police Officer Merlin Ehlers has been appointed as acting police chief to give Hoonah Chief John Milan time off, Prunella said. Another Wrangell officer, Joe Paul, has been filling in while Hoonah makes plans to recruit new officers. Yakutat Police Chief John Nichols also has arrived in Hoonah to help, and Craig, Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka have also volunteered officers.
"I suppose we are going to have to start looking at the hiring process soon," Prunella said. "Smaller towns have a harder time finding people who want to be there. They have to like to hunt and fish and do whatever else, and accept less wages. They have to be really good, upstanding men, like Tony and Matt were."
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