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Ambler Man Faces Attempted Murder Charges for Shooting at VPO

Aerial view of Ambler and the Kobuk River in the summer. Courtesy of the National Park Service via UAF Gates of the Arctic Research Portal.

An Ambler man faces attempted murder charges after Alaska State Troopers say he tried to shoot a village police officer through the front door of his home.

According to a dispatch from Troopers, 34-year-old Harry Morena was “intoxicated and belligerent” using a VHF radio in the northwest community of about 260 people around 6 a.m. Saturday.

Ambler Village Police Officer Jeffery Melton told Troopers he heard Morena yelling “one shot one kill, one shot one kill” over the radio. Melton said he went to Morena’s home to check on his elderly mother, and after knocking on the door, Melton said he heard Morena yell “one shot, one kill” before shooting through the side of the house and into the door.

The VPO was uninjured and backed away, but court documents show the bullet—from Morena’s Winchester 30-30 rifle—”passed within inches of hitting Melton and embedded into the metal clad exterior door.”

Troopers say Morena shot at least two more times though the door and walls of his home, and several more times through the open door. Troopers later found 14 spent shell casings at the scene.

Court records state Morena also left the house and walking around the building and onto Brooks Street, where he fire “at least one more shot” into the air.

A concerned friend then contacted Morena through the VHF, and officers investigating the shooting said the friend asked to meet with Morena but only if he promised not to shoot him. Morena allegedly told the friend he only wanted to “kill the cop.”

The friend met Morena in the street and convinced him to surrender his weapon. Morena was arrested, and when Troopers arrived to investigate Saturday around 1:15 p.m., a search warrant for his home later found evidence of a homebrew alcohol operation.

Troopers say Morena’s deaf and blind mother was also found in the home, seemingly oblivious to the gunfire Troopers said unfolded around her. No one was injured in the incident, according to Troopers.

Morena was taken to the Kotzebue regional jail. He faces charges of second-degree attempted murder, two charges of second-degree assault, and several charges related to homebrewing alcohol.