Connecting Alaska to the World And the World to Alaska
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

State agency can’t investigate fatal shootings at rehab facility

Tim Ellis/KUAC
The Delta Rehab Center, off the Tanana Loop Extension road just north of Delta Junction. Two men in the cabin at right declined to talk Monday about last Friday's fatal shootings in a residence on the compound.

Division of Behavioral Health officials ‘recognize the magnitude of the tragedy on such a small community’

The state Division of Behavioral Health has reached out to the operators of a Delta Junction-area drug-rehab facility where a patient shot two men to death last week. But agency officials say they have no authority to investigate the facility.

A Behavioral Health Division spokesperson says the Alaska Rehabilitation Center has a current business license, but it’s not enrolled with Alaska Medicaid and it’s not a behavioral health grantee, so the agency has no oversight authority to exercise in the case.

The spokesperson declined to talk on tape, but she said in an email Wednesday that, quote, “We have reached out to the organization, as we recognize the magnitude of the tragedy on such a small community (and) to ensure any additional behavioral health support for the community or its residents (is) available.” Unquote.

A couple of men at the rehab facility near Delta declined to talk Monday, three days after 33-year-old patient Daniel Serkov of North Pole shot two men who reportedly were trying to get him to surrender prescription drugs and cigarettes. It’s not clear whether the two victims worked at the facility or were fellow patients. Serj Pankov, the Alaska Rehab Center director, declined to talk about that Wednesday. And an Alaska State Trooper spokesperson said the agency doesn’t release that information.

But a man who lives about a half-mile from the facility who asked to remain anonymous says he’s never had a problem with the people who lived there. He said Monday that he didn’t even know the facility had become a rehab center until he got a call from a friend about six months ago, informing him that it would soon begin operation.

“That’s all that we heard and all that we knew about it,” he said. “And we hadn’t heard anything at all, until yesterday.”

The man said his son was so concerned about the murders Sunday that he reconnoitered his property, looking for a gunman or any sign that he’d been there.

“He went out and looked around in the shop, in the greenhouse, to make sure there was no tracks or anybody around,” he said, “because we didn’t know if the guy was loose …”

The man says he’s frustrated with minimal information that was made available following the shooting. Although, Troopers posted a basic report about it and Serkov’s arrest Friday afternoon.

“A double murder? In Delta Junction? And you hear nothing on the news? That’s odd,” he said.

According to charging documents, Serkov emptied two clips from a 9-millimeter handgun into the victims and a dog outside the house on the facility’s compound. He then drove to Fairbanks and went to a South Cushman Shooting Range. He says he fired off some rounds there before heading over to a midtown gun store, where he had his 9-millimeter cleaned.

Then he went to the Fairbanks Police Department and tried to turn himself in for shooting the dog and violating the terms of his release from jail for an earlier assault case by possessing a weapon. Troopers arrested him shortly thereafter. And an investigator said Serkov admitted killing the two men.

He’s now being held at Fairbanks Correctional Center on two counts of first-degree murder and two lesser counts. Bail is set at $2 million. A preliminary hearing is set for Tuesday.

Tim Ellis has been working as a KUAC reporter/producer since 2010. He has more than 30 years experience in broadcast, print and online journalism.