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Troopers arrest suspect in shootings of 2 hunters near Kiana

Ben Anderson

Alaska State Troopers announced Thursday that they had made an arrest in the shooting of two hunters at a remote cabin in Northwest Alaska earlier in the week. Teddy Smith, 45,will be arraigned Friday in Kotzebue court on charges of attempted murder, theft, robbery and weapons misconduct, according to troopers. 

Earlier in September, Smith went missing from the village of Kiana earlier in September following the suspicious death of his mother, Dolly Smith.

Brothers Paul James Buckel, 46, of Kotzebue and Charles W. Buckel, 47, of Fostoria, Mich., were injured in the incident, which happened Tuesday night at the confluence of two rivers about 40 miles north of Kiana. Troopers said that the two men were floating down the Squirrel River in an inflatable boat when they arrived at a cabin and found it occupied by a third man, now identified as Smith. An altercation ensued, and both brothers were shot. Their boat was also stolen.

On Friday, both brothers were recovering from their injuries at Providence Hospital in Anchorage. Charles is in fair condition, Paul is listed as good.

The shooting wasn't reported until about 3 a.m. Wednesday, several hours after it occurred. The village of Kiana was put into lockdown as troopers traveled to the community to begin a search for the suspect. The Buckel brothers were rescued and transported back to Kiana, where they were medevacked. Paul Buckel was transported to a hospital in Kotzebue, while Charles headed to an Anchorage-area hospital. Troopers did not have any information on their condition except to say the brothers' injuries were not believed to be life threatening.

Troopers said that Smith was spotted from the air in the stolen boat shortly before noon Wednesday, about 35 miles upriver from Kiana. Troopers and members of the Northern Special Emergency Reaction Team set up a position about 16 miles upriver from Kiana, and intercepted Smith about 2:45 p.m. Thursday.

Smith surrendered without incident, troopers reported. He is charged with two counts of first-degree attempted murder, two counts of second-degree theft, and one count each of first-degree robbery and third-degree weapons misconduct. Bail is expected to be $500,000, troopers report.

Troopers had been looking for Smith since the suspicious death of his 74-year-old mother on Sept. 7. At the time of Tuesday's incident, authorities had already issued a warrant for Smith's arrest stemming from an incident in which he allegedly discharged a firearm at a crowd of people outside his mother's home in Kiana, shortly after her death.

Smith then fled, but troopers were unable to locate him after a manhunt.

Contact Ben Anderson at ben(at)alaskadispatch.com