Sterling Elementary welcomes students on the first day of school on Tuesday, August 17, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Sterling Elementary welcomes students on the first day of school on Tuesday, August 17, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Arrest made in case of vandalism at Sterling Elementary School

A Nikiski man was arrested Tuesday in connection with an incident of vandalism at Sterling Elementary School that occurred in July and resulted in more than $16,000 worth of damage.

Ayden Fleming, 19, is facing three charges associated with the vandalism, including criminal mischief in the third degree, criminal trespass in the first degree and theft in the third degree.

Alaska State Trooper L. John McDonald wrote in a Sept. 6 affidavit accompanying charging documents that Sterling Elementary School Principal Denise Kelly reported around 9:15 a.m. on July 31 that the school had been vandalized. McDonald said he reviewed the school’s security camera footage for the time frame between about 2 a.m. and 2:30 a.m.

That footage, McDonald wrote, showed two men climbing onto the school’s roof, breaking ventilation ducting and other items, then throwing the pieces to the ground. After getting down from the roof, he wrote, the two individuals were seen hitting lights attached to the outside of the school and then leaving with one of the school’s lights.

In all, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District estimated that there was roughly $16,100 worth of damage, and valued the stolen light at $250, McDonald wrote.

McDonald said troopers contacted Fleming after being notified by the Soldotna Police Department in August that Fleming was identified in connection with a separate incident of vandalism that occurred at Soldotna Elementary School. During that incident, McDonald wrote, the Soldotna Police Department identified Fleming as one of two men on the roof of the school during the vandalism.

According to Alaska State Statute, a person commits the crime of criminal mischief in the third degree when that person, with the intent to damage the property of another, causes more than $750 worth of damage to a person’s property when they do not have the right to do so. Third-degree criminal mischief is a Class C felony in Alaska.

Statute also says that a person commits the crime of criminal trespass in the first degree, a Class A misdemeanor, when that person enters or remains on land unlawfully on land with the intent to commit a crime on the land.

Further, a person commits the crime of theft in the third degree in Alaska when that person commits theft and the value of the stolen property is worth more than $250 but less than $750.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the school that Denise Kelly is the principal of.

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