Authorities investigate shooting death of Coast Guard commanding officer

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The commanding officer of the Coast Guard's communications station on St. Paul Island was shot to death Tuesday morning, the Coast Guard said.

Chief Warrant Officer Timothy A. Harris, 33, was found dead outside the admistrative office at the Long Range Navigation Station. Coast Guard officials said Harris had several gunshot wounds.

Another guardsman found Harris' body, according to the Coast Guard's public affairs office in Juneau.

A man was in custody for the shooting. But authorities were not releasing the suspect's name because he had not been charged, Greg Wilkinson, a spokesman for the Alaska State Troopers, said Tuesday evening.

Petty Officer Roger Wetherell said the slaying is the first known homicide on Coast Guard property.

''This is a sad day for the Coast Guard,'' he said.

The death is being investigated by the Coast Guard, troopers and the FBI. All three agencies sent investigators to the remote island in the Bering Sea, 775 miles southwest of Anchorage. Authorities had not yet determined which agency will lead the investigation.

Harris, a 17-year Coast Guard veteran, was assigned as commanding officer of the station on July 3, Wetherell said. Harris transferred from New Orleans, where he was assigned to the electronics support unit of the Coast Guard, Wetherell said.

Harris leaves a wife and two young children, who remain in New Orleans.

''As a small, humanitarian service in the lifesaving business, we're grieving the tragic, violent loss of one of our team members and offering heartfelt condolences to Mr. Harris' family,'' said Capt. Richard Houck, chief of staff of the 17th Coast Guard District.

The navigation station on St. Paul Island is staffed by 15 to 22 members. Coast Guard members serve one-year tours without their families because the station doesn't have housing for relatives, Wetherell said.

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