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Former U.S. Senator, Mark Begich starts business development company, among other ventures


Mark Begich, former U.S. Senator, announced in a press release Saturday, that he started a new business development company called Northern Compass Group, among his other new ventures.

The news came on the heels of an announcement from the National Association of Home Care and Hospice that Begich would be working with it on policy development. Begich also told Channel 2 News that he is also working with Grant Aviation of Alaska on business development. Begich describes his new role as applying his political skills to the private sector, but says he will not be a lobbyist. "I'm not going to lobby or lobby legislator or do any of that work." Begich told Channel 2 News.

According to the the former Anchorage mayor, his new role won't jeopardize any future political ambitions. "I'll always keep that in the back of my mind. It's something I've enjoyed. I spent 22 years in elected office and I think I've contributed a lot to the city and the state and I don't think I'll close that option." Begich said he will bring on some of his former staff to work on the Northern Compass Group projects.

At the National Association of Home Care and Hospice, Begich will hold the titles of Vice President for Policy and Development, President and CEO of the Foundation for Hospice and Homecare, and Dean of NAHC's Homecare University, the organization announced earlier today.

Former U.S. Senator for the Democratic party, Begich, was defeated by current U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan in his bid to get re-elected in 2014.

Begich said his family will continue dividing its time between Alaska and Washington while his son finishes middle school.

Channel 2's Lacie Grosvold contributed to this story.

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UPDATE: Alaska Wildlife Trooper plane involved in mid-air collision in Mat-Su Valley


UPDATE 5:15 p.m.: An Alaska Wildlife Trooper fixed-wing aircraft was one of the two planes involved in a mid-air collision in Mat-Su Valley, Saturday afternoon.

Emergency services responded around 1 p.m. to two separate crash sites in the area of Knik Goose Bay Road and Vine Road, Alaska State Troopers wrote in an email.

Both pilots were found alive, one with serious injuries and the other with moderate injuries, troopers wrote.

"The Alaska Wildlife Trooper was transported by ground ambulance to Mat-Su Regional Hospital. The other pilot had to be extricated and was transported via LifeMed to Providence Hospital in Anchorage," troopers wrote.

Neither aircraft contained any passengers.

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ORIGINAL STORY: At least two people are injured in a collision involving two planes, about seven miles off of Knik Goose Bay Road in Mat-Su Valley, officials say.

One person is on the way to the hospital and another is still in the process of being removed from the wreckage according to Deputy Micheal Keenan of Central Emergency Services.

Ian Gregor, spokesperson for Federal Aviation Administration told Channel 2 News that a "single-engine Piper PA18" was one of the planes involved in the collision. The circumstances behind the collision are unknown.

Todd Clark, a resident in the area, told Channel 2 News that he saw the planes collide and went out to help.

Alaska State Troopers received reports of the plane collision at around 1:05 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, AST spokesperson Megan Peters wrote in an email.

The National Transportation Safety Board has assigned three investigators to the case, said chief investigator Clint Johnson. Johnson told Channel 2 News that the crash site is "about seven miles off of Knik Goose Bay Road."

A 2011 mid-air collision in Talkeetna left a family of four dead when the two pilots were on different radio frequencies and were not communicating with each other.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Second Fairbanks fugitive back in custody after Tok standoff


U.S. Marshals apprehended a fugitive wanted by Alaska State Troopers during a standoff in Tok early Friday, the day after troopers arrested a man who had walked away from a Fairbanks halfway house two weeks ago.

According to a statement from Deputy U.S. Marshal Rochelle Liedike, 35-year-old Michael Bracht is being held at the Fairbanks Correctional Center. Bracht had been wanted by Alaska State Troopers after he failed to return from a 12-hour liberty last week, prior to a prison sentence for a September standoff at the Just-a-Store in Fairbanks.

"U.S. Marshals were able to convince Bracht to end a two-and-a half hour standoff peacefully after lengthy communications," Liedike wrote.

Liedike said Friday morning that the standoff began at about 11:45 p.m. Thursday, at a residence in downtown Tok off the Tok Cutoff. She declined to say what information led marshals to that residence.

Liedike said that marshals had received initial reports that Bracht was armed, which were apparently untrue.

"He was trying to make us believe that he was, but we do not believe that he was," Liedike said. "Originally, he did have a female with him, and we were able to convince him to let her down."

According to Liedike, marshals were able to talk Bracht down without further incident about half an hour later. No tactical vehicles, less-lethal munitions or gas were employed during the incident.

"We were able to convince him to end the day safely," Liedike said.

On the same day the standoff with Bracht began, the Associated Press said troopers also arrested a North Pole man who walked away from a halfway house two weeks ago. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports troopers acting on an anonymous tip arrested 23-year-old Logan Patrick Austin. Austin faces drug and theft charges. He had been released on bail but was returned to custody Jan. 3 after investigators said he violated conditions of his release. Troopers say Austin walked away Jan. 14 from the North Star Center. A bulletin issued Wednesday said he was considered a dangerous offender.

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The Associated Press contributed information to this story.

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Man gets 40 years in deadly Dimond Center shooting over PlayStation 3


A man found guilty of second-degree murder in a 2010 shooting at Anchorage’s Dimond Center mall, following a dispute over a stolen video-game console, was sentenced Friday to four decades in prison. Superior Court Judge Jack Smith sentenced Terence Gray to 50 years with 10 years suspended in the death of Edwing Matos. A jury verdict in July cleared Gray of first-degree murder in Matos' shooting and the attempted murder of Matos’ cousin Dennis Johnson in the February 2010 confrontation, but convicted him on the second-degree charge. Matos had had a PlayStation 3 console burglarized from his home, and asked Johnson to buy a replacement online. When Johnson bought a console from Gray, which Matos recognized as his own, the two set up a meeting at the mall. Witnesses say Gray and Matos briefly spoke before Gray pulled out a gun and opened fire, hitting both Matos and Johnson. At trial, prosecutors said Gray had planned the shooting in advance, donning a disguise before he went to the mall. Gray’s public defender characterized the shooting as an act of self-defense, saying he had been frightened by Matos and Johnson and that Matos had threatened to kill him. After his release, Gray will also spend seven years on probation.

... Channel 2’s Shawn Wilson contributed information to this story.

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Retired Army colonel named Alaska's new adjutant general


Alaska Gov. Bill Walker named Alaska’s new adjutant general and deputy commissioner for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Friday, in hopes they would “take the reins, turn the page of the Alaska National Guard.”

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Walker named Laurel Hummel as adjutant general -- a position which also serves as DMVA commissioner -- as well as Bob Doehl in the deputy position. Both are retired colonels -- Hummel from the Army, Doehl from the Air Force. Hummel succeeds Thomas Katkus, who was asked to resign by Gov. Sean Parnell in the wake of a blistering federal report on alleged misconduct in the Alaska National Guard. In brief remarks at the Atwood Building in Downtown Anchorage, Walker said he appointed Hummel and Dole strictly for their professional abilities. “They’re the most qualified,” Walker said.

Hummel said she was “very excited” to work with the veterans who make up the department, as well as addressing concerns raised about the Guard’s chain of command and its responsiveness to reported abuse. “Changing culture is a slow process, but it begins with making sure there is one set of rules, one standard everyone follows no matter where they are in the chain of command,” Hummel said.

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This is a developing story. Please check KTUU.com and the Channel 2 newscasts for updates.

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VIDEO: Who let the dogs in? A musher's homecoming


Gale Browning shares this video of former Yukon Quest champ Sebastian Schnuelle and friends arriving at the musher's Two Rivers home. "There are 56 dogs in the kennel. Sab frequently brings groups of dogs into the house to give them individual attention, work on training and for socializing so the dogs work better together on the gangline," Browning wrote.

Video by Gale Browning, FreeFall Media.

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Police: Bethel woman shot dead early Friday


A Bethel woman was shot to death early Friday, according to police.

Officers from the Bethel Police Department responded to a residence in Larson Subdivision just before 5 a.m. to reports that someone had been shot.

They arrived and identified the deceased as Roseanne Pitka, 25 of Toksook Bay.

Her next-of-kin has been notified, and her remains will be transported to the State Medical Examiners Office.

Preliminary reports suggest she was shot in the head.

34-year-old Quinn Angaiak of Bethel was at the residence and was arrested for misconduct involving weapons.

However, the investigation continues, and anyone with information is asked to contact Bethel police at 543-3781.

Please watch Channel 2 News and check KTUU.com for updates to this developing story.

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FCC says Alaska among nation's 10 worst states for broadband Internet


Alaska remains among the worst U.S. states for access to broadband Internet, especially in rural areas, according to a new Federal Communications Commission report and broadband benchmark. According to the FCC report (PDF) released Friday, 17 percent of Americans overall lack access to broadband Internet, at the commission’s new 25/3 speed benchmark of 25 megabits per second for downloads and 3 megabits per second for uploads. Urban and rural populations fare very differently, however, when they are separately considered. “53 percent of rural Americans (22 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps,” FCC officials wrote. “By contrast, only 8 percent of urban Americans lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps broadband.” That divide is even more acute in Alaska. The report says just 17 percent of urban Alaskans lack access to 25/3 Internet service, but 81 percent of rural Alaskans don’t yet have access to that caliber of service. In the six U.S. states with the lowest population density -- Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and New Mexico -- some 37 percent of residents don’t have access to 25/3 service. For the six states with the highest population density -- New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland and Delaware -- just 3.4 percent of residents don’t have 25/3 access. “Americans residing in the states with the lowest population density are 10 times more likely to lack access then Americans residing in the states with the highest density,” FCC officials wrote.

The new broadband benchmark represents a significant rise from the FCC’s earlier level of 4 Mbps download speed and 1 Mbps upload speed. According to FCC spokesman Mark Wigfield, however, that increase is necessary due to the increasing prevalence of high-bandwidth technology such as streaming video and high-resolution signals for 4K televisions. “The FCC looked at the standard, which hasn’t been changed in four years,” Wigfield said. “The new standard is quite a bit higher, but it reflects what current needs are.”

Wigfield said Friday that obstacles to improving Internet speeds include economic, competitive and governmental issues. “It’s certainly more expensive to deploy broadband in rural areas, and Alaska is especially expensive,” Wigfield said. “Part of what the FCC does, and what local governments should do, is eliminate barriers to broadband, open any conduits so that more competitive carriers can move in.” The federal government also has a role to play in expanding the reach of broadband. Several federal programs under the departments of Agriculture and Commerce help subsidize the development of Internet infrastructure. The FCC has also increased spending limits for its own E-rate program, which helps schools and libraries in remote areas across the nation cover their Internet costs. “That program used to have a $2.5 billion cap, and this year we expanded that cap to $3.9 billion,” Wigfield said. The FCC’s current chairman, Tom Wheeler, heard from the state’s Broadband Task Force during an August visit on its goal to deploy 100-gigabit Internet service statewide over the next five years by a 2020 deadline. His predecessor, Julius Genachowski, hailed GCI’s rural Project Terra in 2011 as an example of public-private partnerships necessary to deploy faster Internet across the state. According to the FCC report, these are the 10 highest percentages of state populations which do not have access to 25/3 broadband Internet. Rural Alaska is markedly worse among rankings for states’ rural areas. Statewide Montana: 87 Vermont: 80 Arkansas: 59 West Virginia: 56 Idaho: 50 Oklahoma: 49 Kentucky: 40 Mississippi: 40 Texas: 38 Alaska: 38 Urban areas Montana: 84 Vermont: 63 Arkansas: 39 West Virginia: 36 Idaho: 38 Oklahoma: 29 Texas: 29 Alabama: 20 Mississippi: 18 Alaska: 17 Rural areas Montana: 90 Vermont: 90 Oklahoma: 89 Texas: 84 Arkansas: 84 Alaska: 81 New Mexico: 77 West Virginia: 74 Wyoming: 74 Nebraska: 73

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APD: 1 of 3 vehicles drove away from South Anchorage crash


Officers at the scene of a three-vehicle South Anchorage collision Friday say there were no major injuries, but that one of the vehicles involved left the scene. APD dispatchers say the crash, first reported at about 11:45 a.m., occurred at Lake Otis Parkway’s intersection with Rives Court, slightly north of O’Malley Road.

According to officers at the scene, two vehicles collided at the intersection. A third vehicle struck the cars involved in the crash, but didn't stop and drove away.

Brief lane closures were in place as tow trucks cleared the damaged vehicles. Channel 2's George Ilutsik contributed information to this story.

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Walker to name adjutant general for Alaska


Gov. Bill Walker is scheduled to announce his choices for adjutant general and deputy commissioner of the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The announcement is scheduled to take place in Anchorage at 12:30 p.m. Friday. Walker's office says the conference can be watched online via a live stream. Brig. Gen. Leon "Mike" Bridges has been serving as acting adjutant general following the ouster of Thomas Katkus last year. Then-Gov. Sean Parnell asked for Katkus' resignation as part of a leadership change stemming from a scathing report that looked into allegations of misconduct within the Alaska National Guard. The report found that victims did not trust the system because of a lack of confidence in the command.

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Pot legalization puts Alaska drug-sniffing dogs out of work


The legalization of marijuana in Alaska is putting some police dogs out of work. The Juneau Empire reports that 10 drug-sniffing dogs used by the Alaska State Troopers will be taken out of service when recreational use of marijuana becomes legal Feb. 24. The 10 Belgian malinois, Dutch shepherds, German shepherds, Czech shepherds and yellow Labrador retrievers have been trained to sniff out pot, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Since the dogs can't be untrained to ignore marijuana, they will have to be retired and new dogs will have to be trained to be on the alert for the last three illegal substances. It will cost the state about $500,000 to buy and train a new pack of drug-sniffing dogs. Troopers are considering options including adoption for the retiring dogs.

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Alaska sea otter pup moving into Seattle Aquarium


The Seattle Aquarium is welcoming a six-month-old sea otter from Alaska. Mishka is scheduled to arrive Saturday from the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward.  She was rehabilitated after being caught last July in a fishing net and now weighs 26 pounds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Mishka likely wouldn't survive if released back into the wild. The Seattle Aquarium has housed northern sea otters since opening in 1977.

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Search suspended for woman in Kuskokwim River ATV crash


The search has been suspended for the third person missing since December, when an all-terrain vehicle crashed through ice on the Kuskokwim River during a Kwethluk-area snowstorm. KYUK reports the all-volunteer search for 27-year-old Sally Stone was suspended because of cold weather, equipment in need of repair and low morale. Stone and two others were traveling from Bethel to Akiak on an all-terrain vehicle Dec. 12 on the Kuskokwim River. Searchers later recovered the ATV from the river, at a hole in the ice. The body of one of the other riders, 51-year-old Ralph "Jimmy" Demantle, was found in mid-December near open water where the four-wheeler was recovered soon after the group went missing. The body of 26-year-old George Evan was found about 46 feet underwater by a remote-operated vehicle. Officials with the volunteer Bethel Search and Rescue organization says at some point, the search for Stone will start up again.

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Pregnancy test dispensers to appear in Alaska bars


In a move geared toward increasing awareness of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, nine bars throughout Alaska volunteered to participate in a University of Alaska Anchorage study on FASD. "It's a full academic research study, on the effectiveness of a pregnancy test dispensers located in bar bathrooms," said Ryan Ray, aide to state Sen. Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks).

Most of the nine bars participating are located in rural Alaska.

Kelly Spokesperson Heather Shadduck says $500,000 was allotted in the FY2015 Mental Health Trust budget for the FASD awareness campaign, plus another $400,000 out of the capital budget for the UAA study.

According to the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, Alaska has the highest rate of FASD in the nation; more than 129 Alaskan children are born with the condition every year. Kelly, who received nationwide criticism last year when he originally brought up the idea of putting test dispensers in bathrooms, wasn't fazed by the bad press Thursday. "(It's) naked politicization of a good issue,” Kelly said. The Mental Health Trust Authority will begin running public service announcements on FASD in March.

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Shell plans return to Alaska waters for 2015 Arctic drilling


Oil company Shell plans to resume Arctic drilling off Alaska's coast this year, the company’s leadership announced Thursday. CEO Ben van Beurden and CFO Simon Henry unveiled the move during an European conference call Thursday morning. The plan was one of the firm’s few points of expansion, amid an overall plan to reduce spending by $15 billion over the next three years in the face of low oil prices.

During the call, van Beurden said the company has maintained "a very significant capability to be ready this year" for renewed drilling operations.

"So, will we go ahead? Yes, if we can," van Beurden said. "It will depend upon a number of things. First of all, will we be technically, logistically ready to go ahead? I’d be so disappointed if we wouldn’t …we’ve been working on this for a long period of time."

Henry encompassed the scale of this year's operation with an estimate of Shell's costs.

"If we drill, if we go ahead, it will be over a billion dollars," Henry said. "Even if we don’t drill, it will be approaching a billion dollars, because of the commitment to keep the fleet of ships that we need." The announcement comes two years after the closing events of a tumultuous 2012 drilling season, in which the Coast Guard cited drillship Noble Discoverer for safety and environmental issues, and the drilling platform Kulluk ran aground near Kodiak on New Year’s Eve. A report last year on the Kulluk grounding ultimately found that poor planning and management were to blame for the Sitkalidak Island incident, while Noble Discoverer operator Noble Drilling pleaded guilty in December to eight felonies in connection with the drillship’s operation. Since 2012, however, Shell has begun laying the groundwork for a new exploration season, securing the support of six Alaska Native corporations in August for a joint venture named Arctic Iñupiat Offshore. An exploration plan Shell filed with federal authorities the same month calls for the Noble Discoverer and a new drilling platform, Transocean’s Polar Pioneer, to conduct joint operations in the Chukchi Sea.

Shell Alaska spokeswoman Megan Baldino said Thursday that a return to the Chukchi this year is dependent on several factors. “We submitted our Exploration Plan in August and that lays out what we want to do in 2015 -- and we’ve said all along that depends on clearing any legal obstacles, securing all the necessary permits and confidence that that we can execute a program safely and responsibly,” Baldino said.

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This is a developing story. Please check KTUU.com and the Channel 2 newscasts for updates.

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Police on shootings: We'll be 'shaking down everything that moves on the street'


Hours after the fourth homicide of the year, the Anchorage Police Department announced a task force that will be responsible for turning the tide in an unusually violent start to the year.

Chief Mark Mew stopped short of calling recent shootings a spike or a trend that will hold over time, but police data suggests the city is averaging more than one gunfire incident per day so far this year plus nine shootings.

"We're going to be out contacting all those people, serving warrants like crazy, taking one thing from one step to the next, shaking down everything that moves on the street," Mew said during a press conference.

While the data is troubling, Mew said there is a common thread: "Of all four homicides so far this year all are connected to drugs," he told media. "All are connected to marijuana and other drugs."

People known to be involved in the drug trade will be the focus of the newly-assembled task force, Mew said.

"I'm not saying I can back this up, but it does make me wonder," he said. "I do wonder if there's some jockeying for positions, if the folks out there are looking for the potential for the change in landscape and wondering how they fit into it."

Reported Gunfire Incidents, Jan. 1-28 *

2013 -- 14

2014 -- 12

2015 -- 31

* These are incidents where a person was shooting at or near another person or property and also includes cases where shots were heard by citizens and there was credible indication there may have been gunfire. Negligent discharges aren't included.

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Police identify man shot to death in Costco parking lot


2:45 p.m. update

Police identified the man killed in an early-morning East Anchorage shooting as 20-year-old Jeanpal Borge.

He was found shot to death in a Costco parking lot around 12:30 a.m. His next-of-kin have been notified.

Investigation is ongoing, and no arrests have been made.

Original Story

Police are on-scene investigating the circumstances surrounding the shooting and death which appears to be a homicide. No arrests in regards to the shooting have been made at this time. Additional information will be released once police have confirmed more facts in the investigation.

Anyone with information surrounding the shooting is asked to contact police immediately.

Police found a man dead early Thursday near an East Anchorage Costco store in what police suspect is the fourth Anchorage shooting death this month.

Officers discovered the body at a Bragaw Street and San Jeronimo parking lot after reports of gunfire in the area, Anchorage police said in a news release. 

"Police received multiple calls around 12:30 a.m. this morning from callers who reported hearing shots fired in the area," police wrote. "When police responded to the scene they located a male gunshot wound victim who was deceased."

Police spokeswoman Anita Shell said no further developments in the case were available as of 8 a.m. Thursday.

"There's still nothing -- no suspects in custody, still working on next of kin (notification)," Shell said.

Including the Thursday death, at least 10 people have been shot and injured or killed this month in Alaska's largest city. 

A 14-year-old boy is accused of killing an 18-year-old Jan. 15 in what police described as apparent drug deal gone wrong. On Tuesday, a couple was slain in East Anchorage, according to police. No one has been arrested in that case. 

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AST: Man planned California trip with PFD money stolen at gunpoint


A Fairbanks man is being held after Alaska State Troopers say he stole most of a woman’s 2014 Permanent Fund Dividend in an armed robbery. The suspect then texted death threats to the woman's boyfriend, charges say. Levi Skulstad, 19, was charged with first-degree robbery, second-degree theft and third-degree assault in the $1,600 theft, according to a Wednesday AST dispatch. The robbery, at the Tanana Valley fairgrounds off College Road, was reported to troopers at about 5:45 a.m. Tuesday. “Investigation revealed that the victim was riding in a car with (Skulstad),” troopers wrote. “Skulstad and the victim are known acquaintances.” In a criminal complaint against Skulstad filed Wednesday, Alaska State Trooper Michael Munson said the victim and Skulstad were in a car with a female driver at about 5 a.m. Skulstad told them to visit the fairgrounds to meet an “unidentified male.” The victim had previously told Skulstad she’d cashed her $1,884 2014 PFD check. “Once they arrived in the parking lot and parked, Levi exited the car, opened the passenger door, and demanded (the victim) give him her money,” Munson wrote. “(She) initially thought Levi was playing a joke; until Levi retrieved a black pistol, pointed it at her head, and exclaimed profanely that he was serious.” Munson said the driver tried to escape as the victim got out, but Skulstad allegedly ordered her back into the car -- a diversion the victim used to get back into the car, before the women locked the car doors. After a few moments, however, they unlocked the car again. “Levi held a pistol very close to (the victim’s) head and again demanded (she) exit the vehicle and place the money on the hood of the car,” Munson wrote. “She did as Levi instructed because she was afraid he would kill her.”

After the victim handed over the money, Skulstad allegedly told her to walk away with her hands on her head before driving away. The victim said she hid in a ditch, improperly clothed for temperatures that hit 40 degrees below zero, until troopers arrived. According to the AST dispatch, Fairbanks police subsequently conducted a traffic stop on Skulstad.

"Skulstad was found to be in possession of marijuana and bills in the denomination reportedly stolen," troopers wrote. "The vehicle has been seized and a search is pending."

On Tuesday afternoon Munson spoke with Skulstad, who denied being at the scene or having robbed anybody. Munson spoke with the victim’s girlfriend Wednesday morning, after he said he had received text messages from Skulstad. “I reviewed the text messages from the boyfriend’s phone and observed the following: several messages where the sender acknowledged they were Levi, stole $1,600 from (the victim), and planned to leave for California,” Munson wrote. “Additionally, I saw several messages regarding killing the boyfriend with a gun and the sender stating they have ‘pulled the trigger’ before.” At that point Munson said he arrested Skulstad, who was remanded to the Fairbanks Correctional Center. “I respectfully request Levi be held in a no-bail status given the text messages which indicated his desire to leave Alaska,” Munson wrote.

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Searchers rescue pilot after overdue Alaska plane found on lake


Alaska National Guard authorities say the pilot of an aircraft overdue for nearly a day has been rescued from a lake west of Cook Inlet, where his plane was found Thursday afternoon.

Clint Johnson, the National Transportation Safety Board's Alaska chief, said he was told by the 11th Air Force's Rescue Coordination Center that the pilot of the missing Cessna 180 was found at the crash site on Chakachamna Lake, on the west side of Cook Inlet.

"They found the plane -- it's partially broken through the ice," Johnson said. "He's on the way to Central Peninsula Hospital, but my word is no injuries."

According to Alaska National Guard spokeswoman Kalei Rupp, the aircraft was located shortly before noon Thursday, during a search that included half a dozen Civil Air Patrol aircraft from four CAP squadrons.

"It was spotted by a good Samaritan, apparently a friend of the pilot who was doing a search, as well as CAP," Rupp said. "CAP remained in the area to facilitate communications between rescue assets."

Petty Officer 2nd Class Grant DeVuyst said the Coast Guard had been preparing to deploy a C-130 to search Cook Inlet for the Cessna 180 when the Rescue Coordination Center notified the agency that a discovery of some kind had been made by the Civil Air Patrol. 

"Our C-130 was stood down for the time being until the (Rescue Coordination Center) can get someone on scene to investigate," DeVuyst said.

Rupp confirmed that the pilot was being flown to Soldotna, but said there was no immediate word from the rescued pilot about when or why the Cessna crashed.

ORIGINAL STORY:

U.S. Coast Guard and Alaska Civil Air Patrol aircraft are launching Thursday to search for a small plane that was reported overdue Wednesday night.

A red-and-white Cessna 180 left Soldotna for Chakachamna Lake, north of Cook Inlet on the inlet's west side, at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday with one person on board, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Grant DeVuyst. The plane did not return by 4 p.m. as expected.

It was reported overdue at 5 p.m., DeVuyst said, citing information provided to the Coast Guard by the 11th Air Force's Rescue Coordination Center.

Alaska National Guard spokeswoman Kalei Rupp said Thursday that RCC is coordinating the search. An HH-60 Pave Hawk with pararescuemen on board searched for the missing Cessna for about three hours Wednesday evening, but didn't find anything.

"We're searching ground areas and the Coast Guard is searching the coastal waters," Rupp said.

The Coast Guard’s 17th District has issued an urgent information broadcast in the Anchorage area reporting the overdue plane, he said.

A Coast Guard C-130 Hercules was preparing to search the north Cook Inlet area, including the water and shoreline, DeVuyst said at about 9:45 a.m. Thursday.

Rupp said search activities by RCC have resumed Thursday.

"There are six Civil Air Patrol aircraft from four different squadrons searching the ground areas," Rupp said.

The CAP units participating in the search include the Polaris, Birchwood, Elmendorf and Kenai squadrons.

Channel 2's Kyle Hopkins and Chris Klint contributed information to this story.

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Wasilla traffic stop yields nearly half-kilo of meth


A Wasilla man is being held on $100,000 bail, after Alaska State Troopers say he was found to have nearly half a kilogram of methamphetamines, worth an estimated $67,000, in a Wasilla traffic stop early Thursday. According to a Thursday AST dispatch, 30-year-old Johnnylee Burk was charged with one count of third-degree misconduct involving controlled substances, four counts of fourth-degree misconduct involving controlled substances and one count of violating conditions of release. He was arrested by members of the Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit, as well as Palmer patrol troopers. “Burk was found in possession of approximately 467 grams of methamphetamine and subsequently arrested, transported and remanded at MatSu Pretrial Facility,” troopers wrote. Burk was held at the Mat-Su Pretrial Facility.

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