A Village Public Safety Officer has been shot and killed in the community of Manokotak, about 25 miles southwest of Dillingham.
VPSO Thomas O. Madole, 54, is dead of an apparent gunshot wound. The Alaska State Troopers arrested Leroy B. Dick, Jr., 42, of Manokotak. Dick is being held at the Dillingham jail, facing charges of murder in the first degree.
The State Troopers in Dillingham took a report of shootings in Manokotak at about 4:00 p.m. Tuesday. Unable to get hold of VPSO Madole, the Troopers flew to the village an hour later. Madole was found dead outside a residence.
Few other details have been released. The State Troopers, along with the Alaska Bureau of Investigation, are continuing to investigate the scene.
"This is tremendously tragic," said Colonel Keith Mallard, the Director of the Alaska State Troopers. "The relationship that we have with VPSO's, we rely heavily on each other. What the VPSO brings to a community is continuity in the public safety. They are someone the community is able to build a relationship with and come to trust. Likewise, we wouldn't be able to do what we do if we didn't have the support of fine professionals like VPSO Madole."
Village Public Safety Officers serve as first responders in communities typically without police or State Trooper detachments, and carry out their duties unarmed. Madole, one of two VPSO's in the village, had been assigned to Manokotak since 2011.
"Tom was well respected within our community," says Gayle Bartman, 24, who works at Manokotak Gas & Oil. "He was a very kind person, and would make twice-a-week visits at work just to talk, tell stories, and joke with us."
Col. Mallard said the last time a VPSO was killed in the line of duty was in 1986. Ronald Zimin, 36, was shot and killed while responding to a domestic violence situation in the Bristol Bay borough.
"As soon as VPSO Madole's body is removed from the scene, he will have a State Trooper or a VPSO with him up until the time of his burial," said Col. Mallard. "Whether that's in-state or out-of-state, we intend to stay with Tom until he's put to rest."
Madole is survived by a wife in Missouri, and a son in Bethel, Alaska.