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Hoonah Police Shooting: 2 Officers Fatally Shot In Alaska Village

RACHEL D'ORO   08/29/10 11:06 PM ET   AP

Alaska Police Shooting
This undated photo provided by the Hoonah Police Dept. shows officer Tony Wallace. Bob Prunella, acting city administrator for the village of Hoonah, says Wallace and fellow officer Matt Tokuoka died after a shooting late Saturday, Aug. 28, 2010. He said he doesn't know what led to the shooting. (AP Photo/Hoonah Police Deparment)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A standoff was under way Sunday in a tiny southeast Alaska village after a man fatally shot two of the village's four full-time police officers the night before, then barricaded himself in his home, local officials said.

Hoonah police officers Tony Wallace and Matt Tokuoka died after the shooting late Saturday, said Bob Prunella, acting city administrator. Prunella didn't know what led to the shooting but said it was witnessed by Wallace's mother, who was visiting from Florida, and Tokuoka's wife and children.

The suspect, 45-year-old John Marvin Jr., barricaded himself in his home, and Alaska State Troopers and other law enforcement agencies were at the scene, authorities said.

There was no sign of a quick end to the standoff, Prunella said Sunday evening.

"This could go on for a while," he said. "They really want to get him alive."

Troopers were urging residents in the shoreline community of about 800 to stay away from the area.

"Sadly, two police officers lost their lives. We hope to end this standoff without any further tragedy," Col. Audie Holloway, head of the troopers, said in a statement.

Tokuoka left the home of his father-in-law, George Martin, just before the shooting. The 39-year-old officer was off-duty and had spent the evening there before leaving with his wife and two children, Martin said.

Soon after they left, Martin heard two shots. Wallace went down and Tokuoka told his wife and children to get away and then he was shot as well, Martin said.

"I imagine he was trying to administer help to this other officer when he got hit," Martin said.

Prunella didn't know how Wallace's mother happened to witness the shooting.

Wallace, 32, died during surgery in Juneau, 40 miles east of Hoonah, and Tokuoka died early Sunday at a clinic in the Native village, according to Martin.

"The whole town's in shock," he said. "I've been getting calls all day. It's a bad situation."

Martin said his home is just a block and a half from Marvin's. He didn't know why the officers were ambushed but said police have had run-ins with Marvin in the past. He said Marvin lives alone.

Alaska State Troopers were leading a multi-agency response, and spokeswoman Megan Peters said a warrant was issued for Marvin's arrest. The Coast Guard transported the Juneau Police Department's SWAT team to the village, Peters said.

Prunella said the deaths leave the Tlingit community with just two full-time officers – the police chief and a trainee. He said the southeast Alaska town of Wrangell sent some officers to help out as needed.

Wallace was originally from Ohio and one of the few hard-of-hearing officers in the nation, according to officials at Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate New York, where he attended the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. He also was a wrestler and was inducted into the RIT Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.

He first joined the Hoonah police force in 2006, leaving for personal reasons after seven months, according to a September 2009 interview in the RIT University News. He rejoined the department in 2008, where he served as the small department's evidence officer, and was recently designated as a breath-test maintenance technician.

"I have had tremendous support from my fellow police officers and have gained their confidence by proving every day that a person with my hearing deficiency poses no problems on the job," Wallace said in the RIT interview. "I have always believed that I could do the job of a police officer and here I am."

According to the law enforcement networking website , Tokuoka was a former Marine Corps staff sergeant who served in special operations. The Hawaii native had been with the department since spring 2009.


Filed by Adam J. Rose  |