Neighbors shaken but unhurt after 4-year-old fires AK-47 in Sitka

A beige building with a red metal roof labelled "Sitka Police Department"
Sitka’s jail is run by the city’s police department. The Sitka Assembly has opted not to place its municipal corrections officers under state oversight. (KCAW file photo)

Sitka police are investigating a near-tragedy that occurred over the weekend when a small child playing with a high-powered rifle fired shots into his trailer court. No one was injured in the incident, but police say it was a very close call.

The four-year-old fired multiple shots from inside a trailer on Halibut Point Road on Sunday, Oct. 25, Sitka police said.

Three police officers arrived at a trailer after receiving multiple calls about gunshots. A vehicle parked outside the trailer had two bullet holes in the driver’s side door, but no one was hurt. Sergeant Lance Ewers said the scene was chaotic.

“To be honest with you, it was absolutely terrifying. Very scary,” he said. “There were people from the trailer court who were leaving their residences and trying to seek cover.”

When they approached the trailer where the bullets had come from, a child answered the door. The child had been playing with an unsecured weapon, which Ewers described as a “high-powered assault rifle called an AK-47.” The bullets went through the trailer walls and into the vehicle outside.

The child’s father was asleep in the back of the house, and a two-year-old brother was in his crib when it happened. Ewers said he’s thankful no one was hurt.

“When kids get ahold of guns, they could kill themselves, they could kill, in this case, the child could have very easily killed the other child that was living in the residence,” he said. “It could have hurt somebody living next door. Killed somebody living next door.”

It highlights the importance of securing guns, Ewers said. Especially in Alaska, where many households have firearms for hunting and wildlife safety.

“It’s the last frontier, and people have firearms. And, you know, firearms and children don’t mix, and it is the adults’ responsibility that certainly toddlers have zero access to firearms,” he said.

He said the Sitka Police Department can provide gun locks for people who need them. Alcohol did play a role in the incident, and the case is being forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office and the Office of Children’s Services.