Troopers: Aniak AK-47 murder suspect said he was ‘just so angry’
The man accused of fatally shooting one person in Aniak with a rifle and wounding two others, including his girlfriend, allegedly told Alaska State Troopers he was angry at the time – but he didn’t recall why.
Joseph Patrick Yaska, 29, is charged with murder, attempted murder, weapons misconduct and five counts of assault in the Sunday shooting, according to court records. The deceased was identified as 24-year-old Bruce Morgan by troopers, who previously said alcohol had been a factor in the incident.
An affidavit supporting the charges against Yaska, written by Trooper Nicholas Hayes, said word of the shooting first came in at about 2:20 a.m. Sunday. A trooper who responded at about 3 a.m. found Yaska’s girlfriend, with gunshot wounds to her wrist and shoulder, at a nearby home.
The girlfriend told troopers Yaska had been watching a boxing match Saturday night, then came home intoxicated and hit and kicked her.
“Joseph then told (the girlfriend) to run from the residence as he grabbed his AK-47 rifle,” troopers wrote. “(She) ran as Joseph shot her twice.”
As the responding trooper began to evacuate homes near the site of the shooting, he saw Morgan’s body hanging out the passenger side of a white Nissan pickup truck parked in front of the apartment complex where Yaska lived.
“Bruce was deceased and looked to have been shot several times from the direction of Joseph’s residence,” Hayes wrote.
After the other residents had been evacuated, troopers said Yaska answered his door wearing only boxers and socks. According to Hayes, he had scratches on his face and neck, as well as bruised and raised knuckles.
Troopers subsequently learned, Hayes wrote, that Yaska had fired on the truck from his porch as well as from the ground standing next to the vehicle.
Investigators spoke with three witnesses, including one who was hit behind her ear and shoulder by fragments from a round passing through the kitchen window of another apartment and a second who was afraid that round would hit him. A third witness told troopers Yaska had pointed the AK-47 at her as she approached the building, causing her to run into an apartment.
Yaska waived his Miranda rights and initially told troopers he didn’t remember heading home from the party, Hayes wrote, but then said he remembered getting mad at his girlfriend for “possibly drinking while watching their children” before they fought.
“Joseph remembered loading the AK-47 and chambering a round,” Hayes wrote. “He said that he remembered seeing someone moving around in the white truck and he remembered shooting at the truck and person, but he didn’t know who was inside of the truck. He said that he was just so angry and he didn’t know why.”
Yaska was held without bail, then arraigned Monday in Aniak. A public defender was appointed to represent him, according to court records.