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Russian Mission man charged with murder after Monday shooting

The badge of the Alaska State Troopers.
The badge of the Alaska State Troopers.

February 8, 2024

Ava White, News Reporter

A man in Russian Mission has been charged with murder, after Alaska State Troopers say he fatally shot a man there Monday.

Charging documents say 45 year-old Richard Pitka shot 46 year-old Patrick Changsak in the shin, at his home in the village about 70 miles northeast of Bethel. Changsak was transported to the village clinic, where he was later pronounced dead. 

Troopers say a witness told them he heard a gunshot while watching Pitka enter Changsak’s residence with a rifle. The witness claimed to hear another shot seconds later.

Troopers also spoke with a former health aide who responded to the incident, and claimed he saw Pitka holding the victim at the scene. 

Pitka was detained by Russian Mission residents until troopers arrived the following morning (Feb. 6).

Pitka allegedly told troopers that he was dropping a rifle off with Changsak for safekeeping. Troopers say Pitka told them he was sitting with the rifle on his lap, when it fired on its own.

But troopers determined the rifle’s hammer would’ve had to be cocked back, and pressure applied to the safety for it to fire. 

Pitka is being held at Yukon Kuskokwim Correctional Center.

Photo at top: The badge of the Alaska State Troopers (KNOM Files)

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