Jeremy Ozenna, 10-26-08

Boy who was shot dies Sunday; weather delays investigators

Anchorage Daily News, October 27th, 2008

DIOMEDE -- A boy who was shot in Diomede was pronounced dead at 12:30 a.m. Sunday, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Though the boy's family was aware of his death, troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters would not release any further information about the case Monday, including the child's name, his age or whether the death appeared suspicious.

Because of stormy weather, investigators had not been able to get to Little Diomede Island to begin their investigation, Peters said.

Boy killed while cousin explains operation of rifle

DIOMEDE: The teenager was preparing for a hunt the next day when the 10-year-old was shot.

By JAMES HALPIN,, November 5th, 2008

A 10-year-old boy was shot to death in Diomede last week when his teenage cousin attempted to show him how to handle a rifle, Alaska State Troopers said Tuesday.

Jeremy Ozenna was shot at his cousin's home in Diomede just after midnight on Oct. 26 while his 13-year-old cousin was showing him "how to manipulate a rifle," troopers said.

The village health aide tried to resuscitate Jeremy but he was pronounced dead on the scene, said Sgt. Andrew Merrill, the troopers' Nome post supervisor.

The death does not appear suspicious and looks to be the result of a "negligent discharge," he said. The rifle, of an undisclosed caliber, was owned by a family member. Merrill said he wasn't sure if the weapon was already loaded or if the children loaded it themselves.

"It was a rifle used for hunting. The 13-year-old cousin was familiar with hunting and using the rifle and he was showing it to his cousin, the 10-year-old, and that's when the discharge happened," Merrill said. "He (the cousin) actually was planning on going hunting with one of his uncles the next day and that's why he had the rifle out."

Troopers did not release the cousin's name Tuesday.

Jeremy's father, Ronald Ozenna Jr., said his son had been out to observe hunts before but wasn't used to handling guns. Because of their ages, he and his cousin were close and Jeremy would sometimes spend the night at the home next door to his own, Ozenna said.

"They were good buddies," Ozenna said in a telephone interview. "If I knew he was cleaning (guns) while my son was spending the night, I wouldn't have let him stay."

Diomede, population 144, is on the west coast of Little Diomede Island in the Bering Strait, 135 miles northwest of Nome.

The village has no runway and is air-accessible only by helicopter. Stormy weather, combined with a charter helicopter being down for maintenance, prevented troopers from landing on the island until Thursday, Merrill said.

Though troopers do not suspect foul play, the state medical examiner requested the body be sent to Anchorage for an autopsy. The results of that exam were still pending Tuesday, Merrill said. Once they are in hand and the troopers' report is complete, troopers plan to meet with prosecutors to discuss the case, possibly by next week, he said.

"In Alaska, there's not any laws against negligently not securing or leaving (guns) around," Merrill said. "Once we get everything back, we'll talk with the district attorney to see if there are appropriate charges that should be filed against anybody."


Find James Halpin online at or call him at 257-4589.