A man who activated a fire alarm at Sterling Elementary School on Friday was arrested, according to Alaska State Troopers.
The school was evacuated in response to the alarm and Central Emergency Services fire personnel arrived on scene. An investigation revealed that there was no fire. Instead, the alarm allegedly was pulled by Robert Luton, 31, of Sterling.
“A man entered Sterling Elementary and pulled the fire alarm right in the front entry and immediately walked back out,” Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Communications Liaison Pegge Erkeneff said.
The school went through the normal protocol of evacuating the building, Erkeneff said, and when everyone re-entered the building, Luton was among the group.
The school’s principal reviewed video footage to find who had pulled the fire alarm, saw it was Luton and that he had been in the area when they evacuated and re-entered the building along with the students and staff.
“The school immediately went into ‘stay put,’ which means that all the staff and students go into their classrooms and lock the doors,” Erkeneff said. “The man had walked into a bathroom right near the front area and when the man came out of the bathroom a staff member engaged him in conversation until the troopers arrived.”
Alaska State Trooper John King arrived at about 1:30 p.m. to find Luton in the nurse’s office according King’s affidavit.
“Luton made statements indicting he wanted to ensure the school was ready in the event of an emergency, and thought an impromptu fire-drill was a good test,” King said. “Luton is not employed by the district, and has no authority to conduct fire-drills, impromptu or otherwise.”
Luton was arrested for terroristic threatening in the second degree and criminal mischief in the fourth degree. He was remanded to Wildwood Pretrial without bail.
A person committing the crime of terroristic threatening in the second degree is charged with knowingly making a false report that a circumstance dangerous to human life exists or is about to exist and causes evacuation of a building, public place or area.
In 2015, according to Alaska court records, Luton plead guilty to two counts of assault in the fourth degree, causing fear of injury, after repeatedly verbally threatening to kill two hospital staff members.
Reach Kat Sorensen at firstname.lastname@example.org.