Russian Mission man charged with murder after fatal shooting

A snowy scene with a village visible through some trees
Russian Mission in 2018 (From Department of Commerce Community Photo Database)

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

Charging documents say 45-year-old Richard Pitka shot 46-year-old Patrick Changsak in the shin at Changsak’s home in Russian Mission, which is about 70 miles northeast of Bethel. Changsak was taken to the village clinic, where he was later pronounced dead.

Troopers said a witness told them that 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 that he saw Pitka holding the victim at the scene.

Pitka was detained by Russian Mission residents until troopers arrived Tuesday morning.

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

Troopers determined that the rifle’s hammer would have had to have been cocked back and pressure applied to the safety for it to fire.

Pitka is being held at the Yukon Kuskokwim Correctional Center.

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