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Troopers shoot, kill harpoon-wielding man on Kasilof beach

Kasilof Beach, at the mouth of the Kasilof River.
Riley Board
/
KDLL
Kasilof Beach, at the mouth of the Kasilof River.

An Alaska State Trooper shot and killed a man in Kasilof who allegedly charged them carrying a harpoon early Monday. The incident is the first fatal shooting involving a trooper in Alaska this year.

Troopers say they responded to south Kasilof beach around 12:15 a.m. Monday after being notified a man — 67-year-old Soldotna resident Kirk Medak — was threatening to kill people with a sword. State and Wildlife Troopers responded and saw Medak with a harpoon near tents. Troopers say Medak charged at their patrol vehicle after they arrived on the scene.

Troopers say Medak initially retreated after they ordered him to step back. They say he charged them again when they got out of their vehicle. A trooper shot Medak after he reportedly ignored their commands. Medak was declared dead at the scene after life-saving efforts performed by troopers and emergency medical services.

Troopers say Medak’s body will be sent to the state medical examiner for autopsy. Per state policy, the trooper who shot Medak was placed on three days of administrative leave and will not be named until that time has passed.

Troopers spokesman Austin McDaniel said Monday via email that the case is being investigated by the Alaska Bureau of Investigation. When the investigation is complete, the case will be referred to the state Office of Special Prosecutions for review.

McDaniel said that office will will determine whether the trooper’s use of force was justified under Alaska law, or if the officer should be charged with a crime. Troopers are required to carry less lethal tools while in uniform, including a Taser and pepper spray. McDaniel said whether either trooper attempted to use a less-than-lethal tool will be reviewed as part of the investigation.

“We take officer-involved-shootings extremely seriously and investigate it with the same thoroughness and pace that we investigate all homicide investigations,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel said the review will also heavily influence when troopers release body-camera video footage of the incident. He said both troopers who responded were wearing cameras that were active during the shooting. Their patrol car was also equipped with a video system in the vehicle.

The shooting occurred near a popular fishing spot for people participating in Kasilof’s personal use fishery, which opened late last month. McDaniel said Medak was shot in the general area, but that the incident was not directly related to the fishery.

Prior to joining KDLL's news team in May 2024, O'Hara spent nearly four years reporting for the Peninsula Clarion in Kenai. Before that, she was a freelance reporter for The New York Times, a statehouse reporter for the Columbia Missourian and a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. You can reach her at aohara@kdll.org