Alaska News Nightly: July 5, 2012

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via email, podcast and RSS.

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Runner Missing After Mt. Marathon Race

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

A 66-year-old runner is missing after the July 4 Mt. Marathon Race in Seward. The man, Michael Lemaitre, of Anchorage, was last seen near the top of the 3,022 foot mountain, three hours after the race start. Alaska Mountain Rescue Group is on the scene searching for the man, and the search coordination  has been handed over to the Alaska State Troopers, after local volunteers failed to find any sign of Lemaitre last night.

Troopers Shoot Man Brandishing Gun In Wasilla

The Associated Press

A Wasilla shooting involving an Alaska state trooper is at least the seventh shooting involving authorities around the state this year.

Troopers say Albert Samoa Maifea sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the shooting Wednesday night after the 35-year-old Anchorage man ran a red light and sped on the Parks Highway, driving toward oncoming traffic while passing vehicles.

Troopers say the officer shot Maifea after the driver stopped and tried to run away, brandishing a gun. No charges have been filed against Maifea.

The trooper’s name will be released three days after the shooting according to department policy.

Troopers have been involved in at least three officer-related shootings this year.

Anchorage police have been involved in two fatal shootings and one injury shooting.

APD Shootings Spark Rally, Community Concern

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

The Polynesian community is leading a Rally to raise awareness about recent shootings by Anchorage Police Officers. Protesters want the APD to adopt a policy of shooting to disarm rather than to kill. But the APD says that’s not likely.

Polynesian community groups are calling on the Anchorage Police Department to reconsider their policy on shooting people. Miriama Aumavae is the Executive Director of the Polynesian Community Center. She says they’re trying to get the APD to consider changing their policy from shoot to kill to shoot to disarm.

“They have sent letters to Chief Mew and also the Mayor, but their has not been any response. So this is our way of stepping up and wanting to be heard, you know in this cause. We want to combine some efforts on trying to implement better protocols on shooting to disarm versus shooting to kill,” Aumavae said.

June 9, an Anchorage Police Officer shot and killed Shane Tasi who was brandishing a stick in the Mountain View Neighborhood, saying the stick was a deadly weapon. Aumavae says the shooting sent shock waves through the community.

“One thing about the Polynesian Community is that we have a unique sense of unity. So we love our families. So you know this death did not just affect the Tasi family, but it affected us as a community as a whole. So we are trying to combine efforts with the police department so that we can prevent. You know we can put protocols in place so that we can prevent this types of tragedies from occurring,” she said.

Lieutenant David Parker is a public information officer with the APD. He says the policy of the APD is to use deadly force against those that threaten officers or other citizens.

“In both of these situations that we’ve had recently, the officers were not in control of the situation. It was the person with the weapon that was in control that was acting out. Had Mr. Tasi stopped and obeyed the orders of the officer who was then pointing a gun at him instead of proceeding towards him and trying to strike him with the stick, he would not have been shot,” Parker said.

APD officials say Chief Mark Mew is planning to meet with select members of the Anchorage Community Police Relations task force and some leaders of the Polynesian community Friday, including Aumavae. Representatives from Mayor Dan Sullivan’s office say they also plan to attend the meeting and will be at the rally. No word on whether Chief Mew will attend. The rally is set for Saturday, July 7 at noon at the Far North Bicentennial Park near the Anchorage Police Department on Martin Luther King Avenue. It is open to the public.

Anchorage Police Officers have shot three people this year, two fatally.

Alaska Teachers Attend National Education Association Conference

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Over 50 Alaska teachers are among 10,000 delegates assembled in Washington, D.C. this week for the annual National Education Association representative assembly.  The NEA is the union that represents teachers across the country. NEA Alaska president Barb Angaiak says the convention, which wraps up Thursday, is used to decide on the organization’s direction for the coming year, including endorsement of a candidate for U.S. president.

More Fire Crews To Assist With Lower 48 Blazes

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

About 100 village-based emergency fire fighters deployed Wednesday to work a wildfire in the Lower 48. State Division of Forestry spokeswoman Maggie Rogers says the crews from the communities of Shageluk, St. Michael, Koyuk, Selawik and Scammon Bay are the second group sent out to fight fires in western states this month.

Scientists Search For Answers To Low Chinook Runs

Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage

Scientists are looking for answers about why this year’s Chinook Salmon returns are so low on so many rivers across the state. The answer is going to be hard to find, because the fish spend longer than any other Salmon species at sea. And the sea, especially the Bering Sea, is changing.

Assessment Aims To Document Arctic Biodiversity

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

The Arctic is home to about 20,000 known species. And a team of scientists is working on documenting them for the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment. The assessment is being conducted by the Arctic Council with the goal of describing the current state of the Arctic ecosystem. The lead scientist for the assessment was in Barrow recently to see the Alaskan Arctic first hand.

Earliest Matanuska Valley Residents Shrouded in Mystery

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Somewhere north of what is now Trapper Creek, an ancient hunting party paused for a time. That was about 8,000 years ago, according to carbon dating on some of the artifacts that archaeologists have found at the site. The dig has yielded rudimentary stone tools, but, as yet, little information about the mysterious people who stopped there. Whoever they were, they sure knew how to pick a spot high ground looking down on a canopy of dense birch and fir, and beyond that, a stunning view of the Talkeetna mountains.  Recently, we tagged along to the dig site with Fran Seeger-Boss, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough’s cultural resources director. She says thousands of years ago, there were no trees.

Alaska Territorial Guard Gains Recognition With Bethel Memorial

Mark Arehart, KYUK – Bethel

Alaska Territorial Guard members have not gotten the recognition that many local historians and veterans believe they deserve. The ATG was a World War II military reserve force also known as the “Eskimo Scouts,” because many of its members were Alaska Natives.  As KYUK’s Mark Arehart reports, they are finally getting some local recognition in the form of an ATG memorial park in Bethel.