Wasilla man arrested after firing 'multiple rounds' near elementary school

Published: Sep. 2, 2016 at 11:27 AM AKDT
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A Wasilla man was arrested Thursday afternoon after brandishing a firearm outside an elementary school and then firing multiple rounds “in an unsafe direction” when authorities arrived, Alaska State Troopers say.

The suspect, identified by troopers as 33-year-old John O. Deckard, was seen outside Snowshoe Elementary School just after 5 p.m., according to Joe Schmidt, School Safety and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator with the Mat-Su School District. A technician who was working on a generator outside Snowshoe Elementary School noticed a suspicious person with a firearm and went inside to notify a teacher.

Within about three minutes, all children and staff were inside and the school building was placed on lockdown, Schmidt said. About thirty students jogging outside for cross country practice were quickly brought inside.

Troopers and Wasilla Police Officers responded to the school and saw Deckard walking east on Fairview Loop before turning onto South Coleman Drive, according to AST spokeswoman Megan Peters.

“Rapid gunfire was heard on S. Coleman Dr. and Deckard was located at a residence on S. Coleman Dr.,” Peters told Channel 2 in an email. “Troopers announced their presence Deckard threatened troopers as well as fired off many rounds with a rifle and pistol.”

During the response, a number of parents and guardians arrived outside the school to pick their children up at around 5:15 p.m., Schmidt said. Troopers advised the parents to enter the school and remain inside until the situation was resolved.

At 5:25 p.m., troopers contacted school officials and said it was safe to end the lockdown. However, five minutes later the lockdown was reinstated when troopers called again and advised that the “pursuit may be heading back to the building,” Schmidt told Channel 2. The school was given the all clear at around 6:25 p.m.

“A Perimeter was set up on the residence, a negotiator contacted Deckard by phone and he eventually came out without a firearm,” Peters said.

According to Schmidt, no students or staff at the school were injured or threatened by Deckard during the incident.

“This was not an active school shooter situation,” Schmidt said.

Peters said Deckard is charged with assaulting three troopers and a citizen who was near the school building.

“More victims may be discovered during follow up investigation,” Peters said.

Deckard, was taken into custody and charged with assault, weapon misconduct and first degree stalking. He was taken to the Mat-Su Pre-Trial Facility and held on $5,000 bail.

When asked to elaborate on the stalking charge, troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said, “It was discovered […] that Deckard was outside of (and on the property of) a private residence and had caused damage. The stalking charge is associated to that.”