61-year-old James Michael Wells, of Kodiak, was arrested Friday for a April 2012 double murder shooting on Kodiak, according to the U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler's office.
On April 12, 2012, Wells allegedly killed two Coast Guard members, USCG Electrician’s Mate First Class James Hopkins and retired Chief Boatswain’s Mate Richard Belisle, at the Coast Guard Communications Station Kodiak.
Wells was a civilian rigger who reportedly worked alongside Belisle and Hopkins and lived in the Bells Flat area about 12 miles from downtown Kodiak.
In May 2012, Channel 2 News approached Wells for an interview and he declined.
“It's our policy not to talk to anybody,” Wells said when he walked inside his home during a reporter’s questions.
Loeffler’s office said Wells was arrested under a federal arrest warrant based on a criminal complaint.
The arrest comes after a 10-month investigation led by Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Coast Guard Investigative Service, with support from the Alaska State Troopers.
The Kodiak Police Department said it had little to no involvement at the time of the investigation and that the investigation was being handled by the FBI.
During the initial weeks of the investigation, the FBI turned to the public asking anyone with additional information about two vehicles, a white 2002 Dodge Ram pickup truck and a blue 2001 Honda CRV, spotted near the Coast Guard Communications Station Kodiak on April 12 and April 13.
The vehicles matching the description were spotted in Wells’ driveway, and neighbors said investigators searched his home after the shootings.
“I was extremely happy, I'm glad that they were finally able to make an arrest and get this ball rolling,” Emily Belisle, daughter of Richard Belisle, said in a phone interview Friday evening. “It was frustrating, it seems like it was taking a long time, but the FBI and the Coast Guard Investigative Services were very good about keeping in contact with us and telling us what they could tell us.”
She expressed gratitude to people offering support, and said “everybody has been absolutely phenomenal, really, it's been a great support to my family and to my mother and it's been a great comfort to all of us.”
Aimee Kniaziowski, the City Manager of Kodiak, contacted Channel 2 News Friday evening saying that the residents are very relieved for the family and the Coast Guard, since the incident had a tremendous impact on the city and now they can move toward closure.
The U.S. Attorney Office said in an issued statement that Wells will appear in Anchorage court next week.
Editor's Note: KTUU's Nancy Lockwood and Maria Downey contributed to this story with a phone interview with Emily Belisle and Aimee Kniaziowski.
Contact Neil Torquiano