Arrests made in Bergeron case

Rachelle Bergeron, assistant Attorney General of the State of Yap, was shot dead on Monday, Oct 14 (Photo from the Yap State Government Public Information Service)

Several arrests have been made in connection to the shooting death of Yap’s acting attorney general, Rachelle Bergeron.

The Yap State government released a statement today:

“On behalf of all the people of Yap and their State Government, Governor Henry S. Falan would like to update the public that arrests have been made in the murder of Acting Attorney General Rachelle Bergeron.”

According to the statement, the next step in the investigation will be court proceedings as the Yap state government moves toward the final stage of conviction.

No names have been issued at this time but authorities said it will keep the public informed at the appropriate time as the court case moves ahead.

Bergeron and her dog were shot on Monday night, Oct 14 in the small Micronesian state after returning from a daily run.

Following the shooting, the FSM state Department of Justice and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a joint investigation on the incident.

On Monday, October 21, the Yap State Government said the initial and intermediate phase of the investigation had been completed and several persons of interest had already been identified.

‘This is not Yap’

Henry S. Falan, the Governor of the State of Yap, described the island’s spirit as broken by the “senseless and heinous act.”

Falan, in a statement, said he will do everything in his power to have justice prevail and to restore civility into the Yap community.

The FSM consul general, Teresa Filepin lives in the same quiet neighborhood as the late acting attorney general — in a nation where owning a personal handgun is illegal.

Speaking candidly, Filepin also shared how the incident has impacted her community.

“Though I can’t speak in an official capacity, to what had happened — or the investigation or anything like that, it hit close to home because the village that she lives in is my village,” Filepin said.

She added: “They did not know that there were gunshots — the neighborhood. They heard the three gunshots. I was talking to her closest neighbor, who is a senator in the Yap state legislature, and even he did not know that what they heard were gunshots. That’s how small and how naive the community is when it comes to this degree of violence.”

Among the Pacific Islands, Yap is known for its weapons prohibition statute which makes it illegal to own a personal gun. Only law enforcement officers and members of the U.S. military are allowed to own guns.

Three shots

In an interview with ABC News, Bergeron’s husband, Simon Haemmerling, said he was at home that Monday night when he heard the gunshots that felled the acting attorney general and her dog.

“Three shots behind me. Pretty loud. I didn’t see any of the shooter. I came out and I saw Rachelle and our dog dead. I just kind of fell by her. Not really thinking about anything else,” Haemmerling said.

Bergeron’s grieving husband also questioned whether her job prosecuting the island’s toughest criminals may have made her a target. Bergeron, a U.S. citizen, first arrived in Yap in 2015, taking up the position of assistant attorney general before being promoted to acting attorney general in January.

“She really loved justice, she pursued justice for somebody, so there would always be the other side that would take things personal. I miss her already,” Haemmerling said.

Bergeron’s parents flew in from Wisconsin several days after the shooting. A memorial service was held Oct 22, Tuesday afternoon to celebrate Bergeron’s life and to honor her service to Yap.