Intruder pulls fire alarm, arrested at Sterling Elementary

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 kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

COVID-19. (Image CDC)
38 new resident COVID-19 cases seen

It was the largest single-day increase in new cases of COVID-19 among Alaska residents.

Anglers practice social distancing on the upper Kenai River in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in late June 2020. (Photo provided by Nick Longobardi/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
Exploring the Kenai’s backyard

Refuge to start open air ranger station

The entrance to the Kenai Peninsula Borough building in Soldotna, Alaska, is seen here on June 1, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly approves plan for COVID-19 relief funds

The borough is receiving $37,458,449, which will be provided in three installments.

‘We need to make changes now’

Millions in small business relief funds remain unclaimed.

Brian Mazurek / Peninsula Clarion 
                                Forever Dance Alaska performs for the crowd during the 2019 Fourth of July parade in Kenai. The team will not be performing in the parade this year due to the new coronavirus pandemic. They will instead perform during an outside July 4 production hosted by Kenai Performers.
The show must go on

American icons to take stage in outdoor July 4 performance

Soldotna’s Chase Gable, a customer service agent with Grant Aviation, prepares to load and unload baggage from a plane at Kenai Municipal Airport on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Airport sees decline in traffic in wake of pandemic, Ravn exit

Passengers leaving Kenai this year through May are down 18,000.

Registered Nurse Cathy Davis (left) and Chief Nursing Officer Dawn Johnson (right) work at a table to get COVID-19 tests ready for the public Friday, May 29, 2020 at the Boat House Pavilion on the Homer Spit in Homer, Alaska. South Peninsula Hospital is now offering free COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic people with no appointments necessary at the Boat House Pavilion through June 6. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
3 cities, 3 testing strategies

Peninsula communities take different approaches to COVID-19 testing.

Cars pass the City of Homer advisory signs on Wednesday morning, June 24, 2020, at Mile 172 Sterling Highway near West Hill Road in Homer, Alaska. The sign also reads “Keep COVID-19 out of Homer.” (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
‘Don’t get complacent,’ governor says of pandemic

Alaska saw 36 new cases of COVID-19 in residents and 12 new nonresident cases.

Refuge reopens some trails to public

Burn areas provide new views

Most Read