Manokotak Village Public Safety Officer Thomas Madole
Photo credit: Division of Alaska State Troopers
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The village public safety officer shot and killed in the Western Alaska community of Manokotak on Tuesday was a former Assembly of God pastor and the first VPSO to be killed in the line of duty since 1986.
Thomas O. Madole, 54, was found dead late Tuesday afternoon outside the home of village resident Leroy B. Dick Jr., 42, troopers said. Dick surrendered to arriving troopers and appeared in court Wednesday in Dillingham, charged with first-degree murder.
Dick admitted to the killing, according to the criminal complaint. He was angry with the VPSO, who had come to his home to investigate a report that Dick had struck his stepfather, the complaint says.
Dick told troopers he saw Madole from his porch and shot him as Madole tried to run away.
A village health aide reported the gunfire to troopers at about 4:15 p.m., according to troopers. A second Manokotak VPSO was out of town for training at the time, said trooper Col. Keith Mallard.
At least three troopers made the short flight from Dillingham to the Bristol Bay village of about 440 people to investigate. They discovered Madole's body outside of Dick's house, the trooper colonel said.
Dick remained in the home, where he spoke to a trooper sergeant on the phone, according to the charges. Dick agreed to leave the home unarmed. He later told troopers that he cleaned his .223 rifle after the shooting, placing it in his gun locker.
Troopers found about six shell casing on the ground near Dick's door. Another casing was found next to Madole's body, about 60 feet away, according to the charges.
Madole's body was being flown to Anchorage Wednesday for an autopsy that will determine how many times he was shot, Mallard said. "There was substantial injuries to his head, chest, abdomen and thigh."
Trained by the state at a 10-week academy, VPSOs work for nonprofit agencies to keep the peace in villages. They are supervised by the state and generally are not armed.
Citing the "facts of the case," Mallard said he did not believe the shooting would have been prevented had Madole been carrying a gun.
Madole is the second VPSO killed in the line of duty and the first since the death of Ronald Zimin in October 1986. Zimin was shot in the chest while responding to a report of a disturbance in South Naknek, also in the Bristol Bay region, according to reports at the time.
Madole had lived in Alaska since about 2000, Mallard said. He served as a pastor for the Assembly of God Church in Bethel for several years before working as a security guard and, beginning in August 2011, as a VPSO in Manokotak, he said. Church officials said he was well-liked in Bethel, serving as pastor from about 2000 to 2006.
"Everybody I talked to ... (speaks) the world of him," Mallard said.
Dick is a longtime Manokotak resident who held commercial Bristol Bay fishing permits from 1993 to 2004. His criminal record includes no-contest pleas for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in 1995 and assault, drunken driving and fourth-degree escape in 1997, among other charges.
He talked to troopers about the shooting Tuesday night at his home, and again during interviews at the Dillingham police department, according to the charges.
Dick showed no sign that he had been drinking or taking drugs the night of the shooting, the charges said. He told troopers that his mother had told him someone would be coming to his house to talk to him.
"Leroy said he loaded his gun because he though police were coming over to his residence," a trooper investigator wrote in the complaint. Madole knocked on Dick's door again and again, Dick told troopers. Dick said he told the VPSO he didn't want to talk, and grabbed his rifle and chambered a round when the public safety officer continued to knock.
Dick told troopers he stood in the doorway and saw Madole about 20 paces away. "Leroy said he saw VPSO Madole look at him, and VPSO Madole ran, and then Leroy shot VPSO Madole," the charges say.
Dick told troopers he doesn't know how many times he pulled the trigger.
"Leroy said he was angry, and he knew what he did was wrong," the charges say.
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