Woman charged in shooting death of Unalakleet man

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Published: Oct. 27, 2023 at 5:40 PM AKDT
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UNALAKLEET, Alaska (KTUU) - Details are have emerged in the shooting death of a 37-year-old Unalakleet man that occurred last Thursday.

According to charging documents filed in Nome District Court, 31-year-old Allison Ivanoff shot and killed 37-year-old Donald Johnson with a small-caliber rifle while intoxicated.

Troopers say one of their sergeants received a phone call from a public safety officer at 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 19 informing of a suspicious death in a residence.

The reporting officer told troopers that a man in town had attempted to reach his brother Donald Johnson to borrow something from him. When he failed to answer his phone, Johnson’s brother walked to Donald’s residence where he saw him laying face-down in a pool of blood and appeared to be deceased.

Dispatch reported they also received a call from Ivanoff that evening, who “sounded hysterical” and requested assistance. As there was no trooper in Unalakleet at the time, city councilman Chris Masters was sent to the residence to investigate, along with two of the village’s health aides.

At the residence, Allison told the health aides she shot Johnson when he was “going after her” and sat on the ground next to his body, cradling his head and covered in his blood. Allison appeared extremely intoxicated and hysterical, and was placed into protected custody at the Unalakleet Police Department.

When investigators arrived at the scene they found three rifles and a pistol, including a .17 caliber bolt action rifle found near the deceased’s body. That rifle had one spent shell casing inside its chamber.

Allison told investigators she had been drinking that evening at another location before coming back to the residence where she lived with Johnson, whom she had been dating for less than a month. Johnson then arrived home and the pair began drinking together. Johnson then accused Ivanoff of cheating on him and they “wrestled” in the kitchen. Johnson asked Ivanoff to leave the residence but she refused and attempted to make her way a bedroom to lay down.

Johnson then blocked Ivanoff from entering the room with his body, then proceeded to cook dinner. As the pair were sitting in bed eating, Johnson again accused Ivanoff of cheating on him and began to “wrestle” with her again. Allison reported Ivanoff pinned her to the bed and struck her in the head with the back of his hand.

Ivanoff then escaped from underneath Johnson and grabbed the .17 caliber rifle that was in the room, pointed it at him, and discharged the weapon. Johnson sustained a single wound just above his clavicle near the right side of his neck and fell off of the bed and onto the floor.

Ivanoff told investigators she thought the weapon was unloaded following their last known use and that she does not recall manipulating the safety mechanism but believed it was on. She then pulled the trigger, discharging the weapon.

Ivanoff said she did not mean to hurt Johnson, only to scare him in order to prevent him from hitting her again. When the pair began dating, Ivanoff told Johnson she would kill him if he ever hit her. Ivanoff told investigators she did not feel sorry for his death because she kept her word.

Ivanoff faces charges of second-degree murder, criminally negligent homicide, fourth-degree misconduct involving weapons. She is scheduled for a preliminary hearing at the Nome Courthouse on Oct. 31 in front of Judge Pamela Smith. Murder convictions in the state of Alaska carry a penalty of 15 to 99 years imprisonment.

If you are facing threatened or actual domestic violence, please discreetly call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis in Anchorage at 907-272-0100.