More Details Emerge In Aniak Shooting Spree

Aug 31, 2017

Bruce "Gotor" Morgan, age 24, was killed in Aniak on Sunday.
Credit Courtesy of Audrey Leary.

In the aftermath of a harrowing fatal shooting incident in Aniak, Joseph Yaska told State Troopers that “he was just so angry and he didn’t know why.” That’s according to a recent affidavit - one of several court documents that reveal further details about what happened early Sunday morning.

Yaska, age 29, is accused of killing an Aniak resident and wounding several others in a shooting spree. In the affidavit, State Trooper Nicholas Hayes says that Yaska came home intoxicated around 2 a.m. after watching a fight on TV with friends. Yaska’s girlfriend said that he started hitting her in the head and kicking her. According to the affidavit, he then grabbed his AK-47 rifle and told her to run. The document states that Yaska shot his girlfriend twice as she ran away from him, once in the wrist and once in the shoulder.

In the affidavit, Trooper Hayes also states that at least one witness saw Yaska shoot at Bruce “Gotor” Morgan, age 24, who was sitting in his pickup truck nearby. Yaska allegedly shot at the truck from his porch at a distance, and then fired on it at closer range. According to the affidavit, he was observed shooting at the truck’s passenger seat where Morgan was sitting. Through the course of the shooting, the affidavit states that Yaska also pointed the AK-47 at a woman on the street, who ran into a nearby home for cover. Yaska then walked onto the house’s porch and fired a shot through the kitchen window. A woman inside was hit with fragments behind her ear and shoulder; several people inside the house told Troopers that they were afraid they would be killed.

The affidavit states that Trooper Anthony Wiles heard that Yaska had shot his girlfriend at about 2:19 a.m. and arrived at the scene at 3 a.m. Wiles evacuated residents and then found Yaska inside his home, wearing nothing but boxers and socks. The affidavit says that Yaska’s face and neck were badly scratched and that his knuckles were bruised.

Yaska told Trooper Hayes that he didn’t remember anything, but later said that he remembered loading the AK-47 and chambering the round, and he remembered shooting at the truck and person inside it.

Yaska is charged with murder in the first degree and attempted murder in the first degree, among other charges. If he’s found guilty, this wouldn’t be his first conviction of a violent offense. In 2011, he pled out to fourth degree assault charges after punching the same girlfriend several times, and, according to the Village Public Safety Officer, threatening suicide. A year ago, the girlfriend filed for a protective order against Yaska, but later dissolved the order, saying that she needed his help with child care.

Yaska is being held at the Yukon Kuskokwim Correctional Center in Bethel, pending a September court hearing in Aniak.