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Hundreds to mourn American prosecutor slain in Micronesia

Credit: iStock/Dmitriy Yermishin

By NICK PERRY Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Hundreds of people were expected to attend a memorial service Tuesday for American prosecutor Rachelle Bergeron, who was shot and killed last week in the Pacific nation of Micronesia after returning home from a run.

No arrests have been made in the case, which friends believe was related to her work as acting attorney general of Yap State. Her duties included being part of a human-trafficking task force, and friends say some criminals may have held a grudge against her.

Yap officials said they've completed the initial phase of their investigation and have identified several persons of interest. They say the FBI has a team of at least three agents in Yap who are helping local authorities.

Constantine Yowbalaw, the director of youth and civic affairs for Yap State, said Bergeron's death was being treated with the highest levels of official respect. He said flags were being flown at half-mast, the state legislature had passed a resolution to remember Bergeron, and a police escort was planned at her memorial, which was being held at her Baptist church.

"The investigation is still ongoing, but today the community and family are all concentrating on the memorial service," he said.

The killing has shocked the tiny island of Yap, home to 11,000 people.

"Yap's spirit is broken by this senseless and heinous act," said Yap governor Henry Falan in a video statement, adding that he'd do everything in his power to have justice prevail and restore civility.

Bergeron was from Wisconsin and first moved to Yap in 2015 to take a job as assistant attorney general. She had previously worked in Washington D.C., New York and India.

Friend Amos Collins last week told The Associated Press that Bergeron's husband was inside the couple's house Oct. 14 baking brownies with a local child the couple was helping care for when somebody fired three shots at Bergeron as she pulled up and opened the back of her Subaru hatchback, killing both her and her dog.

Private gun ownership is generally illegal in the Federated States of Micronesia, and guns are rare. The Small Arms Survey, a Swiss nonprofit, estimates there are 700 guns total owned by Micronesia's 104,000 residents.

The FBI said in a statement that its Honolulu division was proving investigative assistance in the case at the request of Micronesia. Both FBI and Yap officials declined to comment further on how the case was progressing or talk about possible motives.

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