Man arrested after reports of an active shooter sent Kake into lockdown

Kake’s waterfront on northwest Kupreanof Island. (KFSK file photo)

Reports of an active shooter Tuesday morning sent the small Southeast community of Kake into lockdown.

Alaska State Troopers say they arrested a suspect, 48-year-old Keith Nelson of Kake, and flew him off the island. There were no injuries reported, according to troopers.

“The troopers landed. He was taken into custody up there, so he’s out of here,” Organized Village of Kake’s tribal president Joel Jackson said. “It started with a break-in at our grade school, and then there was some gunfire up in our housing project.”

Troopers confirmed earlier Tuesday that authorities were on the way to the village of about 500 people on Kupreanof Island in response to reports of shots fired, and that Nelson was taken into custody without incident.

“At this time we are not aware of any injuries and, based on initial information, we do not believe the individual was threatening any individual person,” said troopers spokesman Austin McDaniel.

Katie Rogers is a teacher’s aide at the school in Kake. She said she lives too far away to have heard gunfire but she understands most of the town had closed its doors with people sheltering in place most of the morning.

“The grocery store’s shut down, the school is shut down and the clinic is shut down and everybody’s been told to stay home and lock their doors,” she said Tuesday morning.

By Tuesday afternoon the all-clear had been issued and people were venturing outdoors again, said Jackson.

“Nobody was hurt, everybody stayed indoors while this thing played out,” he said.

Kake has no permanent police presence in the community.

“It’d be nice if we had law enforcement in our small village,” Jackson said. He said village public safety officers are on a rotation that leaves the village with no law enforcement for two weeks at a time.

“We’ve got nothing. Basically we answer calls because people don’t know who to call,” he added.

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Jacob Resneck is CoastAlaska's regional news director in Juneau.