Akiachak tribal police chief charged with assault
The tribal police chief in a Western Alaska village has been arrested on several counts of assault by Alaska State Troopers, who say he attacked and threatened his relatives while drunk earlier this week.
John Snyder, 32, is charged with first-degree, second-degree, third-degree and fourth-degree assault, as well as reckless-endangerment and weapons-misconduct counts, according to court records.
Troopers said they got word at about 10:30 p.m. Monday of the assault in Akiachak, a Kuskokwim River community of about 700 people nearly 20 miles northeast of Bethel.
“Local police officers reported (Snyder) assaulted multiple family members at his residence,” troopers wrote. “Investigation revealed Chief Snyder strangled one family member and then pointed a firearm at two others while under the influence of alcohol.”
Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said initial word Monday indicated Snyder was alone in his home and his family “was safe at other locations.” Troopers responded to Akiachak just after noon Tuesday, where Snyder was taken into custody at his house without incident then remanded to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Correctional Center.
A criminal complaint against Snyder, written by Trooper Edwin Anderson, said Snyder’s mother-in-law told investigators she had responded to reports of a disturbance at his home.
When she arrived, she found Snyder’s wife and their 5-year-old daughter outside, where Snyder “came to the door and threatened to kill them.” She said he then got a gun from inside the home, pointing it at the mother-in-law and child – an act corroborated by three other witnesses.
Investigators found two BB guns on the Snyders’ porch, which Anderson said “appeared to be made to resemble modern assault-style firearms.”
Troopers also spoke with Snyder’s wife, who said he had strangled and punched her the previous night.
“(Snyder’s wife) thought John was going to kill her when he strangled her, and he told her he was going to strangle her to death and hide her body,” Anderson wrote. “(She) felt pain and experienced ‘tunnel vision’ while John strangled her.”
Snyder declined to comment on the incident when troopers spoke with him, Anderson wrote. A breath sample taken from him just before 3 p.m. Tuesday yielded an alcohol content of .142, nearly twice Alaska’s legal limit for driving.
A court database shows Snyder’s only previous criminal record in Alaska is a 2005 citation regarding safety requirements for operating a boat. He was scheduled to be arraigned on Monday's charges Wednesday afternoon in Bethel court.
Akiachak tribal officials weren’t immediately available to discuss Snyder’s status with the tribal police force.