Photo courtesy Nicolai Joseph / Kwethluk Public Safety

Unarmed Village Police Saved By Armed Resident From Potential Mass Shooting


KWETHLUK, ALASKA — A small village in Alaska, where the police force doesn’t carry firearms due to a lack of funding, had a 19-year-old man break into the public safety building and stage an assault on responding officers.

According to state troopers, a 19-year-old man, Brian Nicolai, broke into the village public safety building dressed for combat. He staged rifles inside, and activated the fire alert system. When village police officers responded, the officers say that Nicolai shot at them. But no one was hurt, largely thanks to an armed resident who got Nicolai to give up his weapon and lie on the ground.


Each officer was helpless during the incident, and some had to hide from Nicolai as he fired.

It wasn’t until an armed resident, who was alerted to the trouble, came to the aid of those being attacked. And he brought his rifle.

That resident was Casey Thompson, according to the trooper’s report. Thompson, armed with a rifle, was able to get the shooter to drop his weapon, the report said.

The incident ended with no casualties, and Nicolai was taken into custody.

After this happening, are things going to change for the village police? It doesn’t seem likely.

Administrative Chief Joseph said that out of the 10 village police officers in Kwethluk, zero carry a gun. He said that some have a baton and pepper spray, but others are armed with only handcuffs.

Officers explained that the reason Kwethluk VPOs don’t carry firearms is a lack of funding. Berezkin said that the required training to carry firearms takes two to three months in the lower 48. Joseph said that the city can’t afford to be sued for improper use of force.

But Berezkin is not rushing to change the way things are in Kwethluk. He said that incidents involving guns, like the one on Saturday, are rare.

“We don’t deal with this every day, you know?” Berezkin said.

This sounds an awful lot like the interviews we see where people talk about a shooting, other violence or what have you. What do they all say? “This kind of stuff doesn’t happen around here. We’re all in shock.”

Had the suspect been successful in shooting officers, and one or more died, would that change the policy?

Who knows. For now, it would seem that these officers are going to remain defenseless if ever encountered with another armed threat.

With a population of less than 800, it’s not a surprise that Kwethluk sees very little action. And that’s a good thing.

However, it doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen again. That’s overly optimistic, and for police to be unarmed is overly irresponsible.

About the Author

Brandon is the founder of Concealed Nation and is an avid firearm enthusiast, with a particular interest in responsible concealed carry. His EDC is a Springfield Armory Hellcat OSP, with a Shield Sights RMSC Red Dot, that holds Hornady 165 gr FTX Critical Defense rounds, and rides comfortably in a Vedder Holsters ComfortTuck IWB holster.

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