A Nikiski teacher accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student was the subject of a law enforcement manhunt Thursday afternoon. After the man threatened to commit suicide, two local schools were placed on lockdown. Alaska State Troopers caught the man earlier today.
Neither the Troopers or the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District are saying much about the incident.
What’s known is that a male teacher at Nikiski Middle-High School was suspected of “inappropriate behavior” with a student. School District Spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff says district officials reported their suspicions about the teacher to Alaska State Troopers Thursday morning and Troopers began their own investigation.
Troopers responded to the school and attempted to locate the teacher but he had already left the campus. At some point – it’s not clear when – the man threatened to commit suicide by consuming alcohol and sleeping pills.
Troopers began searching for the teacher’s red 1993 Dodge Dakota truck and urged members of the public to help locate the vehicle.
Meanwhile, both Nikiski Middle-High School and North Star Elementary School went on lockdown. Erkeneff says that decision was made after the report came in that man had threatened suicide.
"As a precaution, the school dostrict put students' safety first," said Erkeneff. "And so we did a lockdown at both of our schools that were in close proximity."
Both schools were under the lockdown for about two hours Thursday. Under the district’s current procedures for a “modified” lockdown, students are confined to their classrooms but parents are still allowed to come and pick them up. Erkeneff says that at the schools’ regular closing time, Troopers were on site and students were allowed to go home as they normally would.
Trooper Spokesperson Beth Ipsen says Troopers finally caught up with the suspect Friday.
"(We) caught up with him at about noon today at about Mile 15 (of) the Kenai Spur Highway," said Ipsen. "Based on some medical issues that he was going through, medics were called in and he was transported to the hospital, where he remains, getting treatment."
Ipsen would not say what the nature of the man’s injuries were. He has not yet been charged with a crime.
As for the allegations that the teacher had “inappropriate behavior” with a student, Pegge Erkeneff says she cannot say much because the case is still under investigation.
"What I can say is that we did an internal investigation," she said. "(We) deemed it necessary to contact the Troopers and bring them in."
Erkeneff says the suspicions about the teacher were originally brought forward to district officials who then began an internal investigation.
She says the teacher has been placed on administrative leave. His name has not yet been released.
"People want to know everything but we can't give out all of the information," said Erkeneff. "We can just assure that all of our students ... are safe right now. That's the priority. I just ask for parents to trust us. We're keeping kids safe and working with law enforcement."