Military police guard the area where two members of the Coast Guard were… (Nicole Klauss / Kodiak Daily…)
FBI agents have arrived in Kodiak, Alaska, to investigate the fatal shootings of two U.S. Coast Guard members at a communications station, but a spokesman said there is no immediate evidence that the incident was a terrorist act.
Investigators would not say Thursday evening whether a gunman was still at large on the remote island in southern Alaska, home to 13,000 people and the largest Coast Guard base in the U.S.
“The investigation is ongoing, and it’s still too early to speculate. We are investigating all possibilities,” Eric Gonzalez, FBI spokesman in Anchorage, told the Los Angeles Times.
Coast Guard spokesman Chief Petty Officer Kip Wadlow said officials are advising residents to take precautions.
“Because of our concern for the public, we are encouraging them to be extremely vigilant and to keep an eye out for anything suspicious that they may see. If they do see anything suspicious, we are requesting that they immediately contact local law enforcement to report it,” he said in an interview with The Times.
“This is an open investigation,” he said.
The two Coast Guard members were found dead early Thursday at the Coast Guard Communications Station three miles north of the main Coast Guard base in Kodiak. The facility provides communications links for search and rescue operations and between Coast Guard vessels and aircraft operating in southern Alaska.
Access to the facility, which employs about 60 people, is permitted only to those with valid identification and, in the case of visitors, escorts.
The shootings touched off a lockdown at the base and surrounding schools Thursday morning as officials attempted to determine what had happened.
Stewart McDonald, superintendent at the Kodiak Island Borough School District, said an elementary school on the base went into full lockdown at 8:15 a.m.
“Peterson Elementary did go into a full lockdown, where they secure the building and everybody hides,” McDonald said in an interview with The Times. “With the lockdown procedures, we try to lock the building up and get everybody into a position where we increase our maximum safety.
“It’s the whole idea of totally securing the building and making sure it’s very hard to find anybody. It’s a well-practiced drill, and all the kids went through it fairly routinely,” he said. “Nobody panicked.”
Military police took charge of security at the school during the lockdown, he said, but later in the morning the alert was eased to “lock-in” status. Then students were allowed to conduct normal classroom activities with the outer doors locked, so no one could enter or leave.
Three schools farther from the base were on lock-in status until 1 p.m., he said. Students at all schools were allowed to go home at the end of the day.
“I know there was some kind of shooting, but they haven’t really told us much,” McDonald said. “The troopers continued to tell us there really wasn’t any danger. We did it out of precaution to just make people feel safe.”
Coast Guard officials said the two victims have been identified and their families notified, but under Coast Guard policy the names will not be released until 24 hours after the incident.
“We want to be as sensitive to the victims’ families as possible,” Wadlow said. “This is a difficult time for them emotionally.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of our lost shipmates, and we will provide all the necessary support and guidance they need as they grieve their loved ones,” Capt. Jesse Morre, commander of Coast Guard Base Support Unit Kodiak, said in a statement.
Two shot dead at Coast Guard station in Kodiak, Alaska
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