By Chris Klint
Channel 2 News
1:26 PM AKDT, September 19, 2012
Two hunters were shot and wounded Tuesday night at a cabin near Kiana, leading the communities of Kiana and Noorvik to temporarily place themselves on lockdown while Alaska State Troopers prepared to search for a male suspect.
AST spokesperson Megan Peters says Kotzebue troopers were notified shortly after 3:30 a.m. that two hunters had visited a cabin while floating down the Squirrel River, about 40 miles upriver from Kiana.
“When the hunters stopped, they found another male already staying in the cabin, an altercation occurred and the two hunters were both shot,” troopers wrote in a Wednesday dispatch. “The unknown suspect then stole the victims’ inflatable boat and hunting equipment and began floating down river.”
Troopers responded to the cabin at daylight and took the hunters to Kiana, where both men were medevaced; one was taken to a hospital in Kotzebue, while the other was en route Wednesday to an Anchorage hospital.
The Associated Press quotes Kiana village public safety officer Richard Eunice as saying the Kiana lockdown ended Wednesday afternoon, with one of the injured men shot in the chest and the other in the arm. Era's Aviation's Kotzebue station manager, Karmen Monigold, told the AP that one of the shot hunters is mechanic Paul Buckel.
AST spokesperson Megan Peters said troopers suggested that residents of nearby towns take safety precautions such as staying inside, locking doors and only opening them to known individuals. Officials in Kiana and Noorvik subsequently ordered the communities into lockdown.
Peters couldn't confirm any relationship between Tuesday's incident and an ongoing search for Teddy Kyle Smith, who allegedly fired on people responding to the Sept. 7 suspicious death of his mother, Dolly Smith, in Kiana. Smith has been charged with four counts of assault in the incident, but is not charged in the death of his mother.
“At this point, it is an unknown for who the suspect is,” Peters said.
Responding troopers are at the cabin and in Kiana Wednesday, preparing to search the intervening 40 miles between the two locations for the suspect in Tuesday’s shooting.
Editor's note: State troopers say the river the hunters were floating was the Squirrel River, not the Kobuk River as listed in an initial AST dispatch.
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