Corey Ahkivgak, who has attacked three people in Anchorage in the past six months, including a woman who he stabbed in the back at the Loussac Library, was let go by an Anchorage judge. By Monday, Ahkivgak will be walking the streets of Anchorage, free to attack again.
Angela Harris was stabbed while returning borrowed items at the Loussac Library on Sunday afternoon, Feb 13, 2022. Ahkivgak came up to her from behind in the lobby of the library as she approached the return chute. Her injuries were additionally severe because the man’s knife hit her spinal cord, causing paralysis. He had attacked two other women in months leading up to his attack on Harris, and had been released on those attacks, too.
“My family and I have lived in Alaska since 2005 and I am a mother to four children, all of whom I have regularly taken to the library since they were young. I am serving on active duty in the United States Coast Guard,” she said. “Corey Leif Ahkivgak drove a dirty Leatherman knife into my spine between L2 and L3, penetrating my spinal cord.”
But Judge Josie Garton of Anchorage Superior Court dismissed the charges, saying that Ahkivgak was never going to be competent enough to stand trial or understand the criminal Justice system.
Unless prosecutors can find a way to civilly commit him, the ruling means Ahkivgak can go wherever he wants, including any homeless shelter, park, grocery store, or back to the scene of his latest crime — the Loussac Library.
On Facebook, Harris wrote:
“When I arrived at St. Elias, “Momisol” (Ms. Marisol) said, ‘He broke your skin but he did not break your spirit’. Yesterday my heart broke. Today I am reminded of her words as I get myself up again refusing to allow the law to break my spirit. I will not deny that this ruling, the dismissal of his charges and ability to be released again, feels like a bigger blow than when Corey Ahkivgak drove a dirty leatherman knife through my spine.
“It was just another day at work on January 6th when Judge Garton followed the rules of the law releasing Mr. Ahkivgak from custody 28 days after publicly attacking two women on two separate occasions in December. He attacked me 38 days later. Yesterday was the second time that I listened to public competency hearings (for a mind blowing time, call the courts and get the information to listen to a block of those hearings).
“For almost two hours I listened to Municipal and State criminal charges being dismissed and cases dropped due to incompetence rulings. Multiple offenders. Violent offenders. Minor offenders. It was an assembly line of cases. There were victims, like myself, who pleaded with the court to help make sense of how someone could have murdered another human being and still be released with no record based on incompetence.
“Listening to Judge Garton as she justifiably carried out her lawful duties on another routine day in the office was one of the biggest hits I’ve ever taken. It was heavy for me because the people in positions of power have known this injustice has existed for a long time. They knew Alaska Laws were not yet written to protect the public. They knew people were being sent out to the streets daily with clean records. They’ve known there was a loophole, a gap putting Alaskans at risk, yet no one before now has looked into what can be done to fix it.
“Repeatedly, I am being told that, in addition to daily physical and occupational therapy, counseling, learning to walk, etc., it’s also now become up to me, as the victim, to fight for legislative changes. Knowing the courts have watched this injustice happen every day and no one has gotten in front of it because it hasn’t yet effected them or their family was one of the hardest hits. Rulings like this mean those released based on mental incompetency can still work in public schools, purchase firearms, anything they please because there is literally no record of their criminal activity nor their mental incompetence.
“Unless we continue to fight, Mr. Ahkivgak would be released to the public on Monday. My support team and I continue to show up in offices pushing for longer detainment. I am 100% confident that the DA prosecuting on behalf of the State is filing for a Civil Commitment (another soapbox for later, but I have no representation or say. This is a State matter and they do not work on behalf of the victim. The DA for this case has just been very kind at answering my calls and helping me make sense of it). I’ve also learned that if there is no bed space or if the Judge chooses, this request can be denied. API has 80 beds available to serve our state. 10 of those are designated to criminal rehabilitation.
“The Commissioner told the Governor during our meeting that these are adequate numbers and there isn’t a waitlist issue. It makes sense after listening to the court hearings because they release the criminals if they know they will not be able to get into a facility within the time the law allows for them to be detained (yes, I understand criminals are people and have rights too; I do not agree with it being acceptable to conclude 10 beds for rehabilitation is acceptable because we’ve already released a ton back to the streets because 10 beds are all we have).
“I have no legal background; my understanding is a Civil Commitment will detain him for 30 more days. We will continue to have to push for 60, 90 and then 180 days. My understanding is that is as long as he can be held accordingly to law. Judge Garton said he can be held for longer if he’s a danger, but I’ve not found supporting documentation to give me faith in this. After hearing other cases, I also understand that there is a strong lean on releasing criminals because they’ve been detained too long with no resolve. Evidently, keeping our community safe by keeping offenders detained is less favorable as so many pleaded with the judge for “immediate release” because their client has the right to be released since they are incompetent and has already been in jail for weeks or a couple of months. I am abundantly blessed to have Jesus as my stronghold and my family and friends as my support. Even with the love, support and encouragement of an army, there are moments that I crumble. I appreciate all of your love and support. Many of you wrote letters and have reached out to people in positions who can help; thank you for making enough noise to get their attention. Unfortunately, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Please do not stop pressing in until laws are written AND passed. It is going to take community involvement to keep the needle moving. I cannot imagine the emotional, spiritual, mental and financial ruins that other victims before me have faced. Hearing the volume of cases in two days makes me wonder how many victims are out there. Alaska is so big yet so small. Do I know someone who was victimized? Do you? Do they have support?
“The resources that Alaska has is sometimes difficult to find. Even when found, Alaska’s Victims’ Compensation Board has a $40k cap. I would have blown through that a few hours after my attack. I haven’t found that Alaska has a support group for victims in my situation. Homicide, yes, but why does it have to come to that? What exactly are our rights, resources and options as victims? Another huge blessing, I am active duty and Tricare has helped but even then I’ve had to spend double digit hours of emotional stress fighting for outpatient services (again, thanks to Gaylin Swibold and Karen Hewes leaning in with our HS, I now have an incredible patient advocate and no longer have to fight this battle). What about victims who were already struggling to keep their head afloat? If you know a victim, I implore you to reach out to them. For me, I was in our public library on a Sunday afternoon. Through counseling, I’m learning that this has had a profoundly deeper traumatic effect because I was in a seemingly safe place full of fantastic memories. I’ve taken our kiddos to the library since they were young and have had a ton of fun experiences there. For others, who knows their experience? Are they fortunate enough to even have the time, funding and transportation for a counselor to help them process their experience? Where are they and how can they get the assistance that they need?
“I cannot imagine my life without my parents, Walter Burns and Robin Burns being retired and able to come here to take care of the two “littles” (spoiler, they are no longer little) in our home (we are blessed that Miss Kitty likes Mike Trepagnier and April Trepagnier so they can care for her while mom and dad are here). I cannot imagine how I would have been released from inpatient care without Dr. Todd Curzie opening his home to Aaron D and I. I cannot imagine how I would have made it through meetings with government officials without Captain Leanne Lusk picking up dialogue when my shaking voice fades. I cannot imagine how I would untangle my thoughts without the ability to word dump to Christine Moaga and have her help sort it all out.
“I am abundantly blessed. I still struggle daily. We keep fighting because there are victims out there with little to nothing. Criminals are not kept detained and are released creating more victims. We MUST protect and support our community. I honestly do not know how I could fill the gap but I would love to know other victims and hear their stories. I would love to know if there are things that we as a community could do to support them. Victims For Justice is a great resource and my advocate, Golda, is the kindest woman. It seems as if that system could use a little tweaking too (another soapbox for later), but for those victims who still have a gap in their needs, I wonder how our community could offer assistance. Jesus didn’t make a mistake. I am here because there is work to be done. My life is forever changed. We must close the loophole. We must bridge the gap. We must make our public places safer. We have a mental health crisis in our community with inadequate facilities and resources.
“We have a robust Mental Health Trust; how is Alaska utilizing it if not within API? Before anyone barks back, I understand this is happening globally. I understand there are more issues. I am trying to heal and fight with what I have been dealt. My tragedy will not be in vain. It’s already a victory because I still have my life and ability to love on my family and watch my kiddos continue to grow into extraordinary adults. This experience gives us a chance to save someone else from facing a similar attack or a family loosing a beloved. Prayerfully, that positive footprint would encourage someone else to leave a positive footprint. More than a decade ago Mr. Gillam, Diane and JL showed me and my family love and kindness in a way that I can never repay. The only thing any of them would ever say was, “whenever you see an opportunity, pay it forward”. I know Jesus has been with me every step of the way. I’m doing the best I can to press forward, still seek out the best in people and help whoever I can along the way without completely depleting myself. Even after reading this, if the only thing you do is show one other person kindness today, it’s a win.”
Original police report:
Initial indications are that 32-year-old Corey L. Ahkivgak was sitting at a table in the lobby of the library when he abruptly stood up and ran towards a male and female who were near some bookshelves by the windows. Ahkivgak stabbed the adult female in the upper body and then fled from the building on foot. The adult female was transported to the hospital by medics for treatment of her injuries. She is expected to survive.
A description of Ahkivgak was aired over the radio; multiple officers arrived and formed a perimeter. A K9 track was conducted but was ultimately unsuccessful. Just before 5PM a swing shift officer saw a male, matching the suspect’s description, walking near E 36th Avenue and Cottonwood Street. The officer gave the man commands and took him into custody at 4:58PM once backup units arrived. Ahkivgak was positively identified as the suspect.
While Ahkivgak was being transported to the Anchorage Police Department for questioning, he slipped his handcuffs from the back of his body to the front. The officer pulled over, removed Ahkivgak from his patrol vehicle, re-cuffed Ahkivgak’s hands behind him, and then placed hobbles onto Ahkivgak’s legs to keep him from slipping the cuffs again. While Ahkivgak was sitting in the interview room at APD HQ, he flipped over the table causing it to break. At the conclusion of the interview, Ahkivgak was remanded at the Anchorage Jail on the charges of Assault III, Violate Conditions of Release, Criminal Mischief IV (for the damage to the interview room), and Assault I.
There is no indication that Ahkivgak and the victim knew one another. The motive for the attack is still under investigation.