Four people are dead and another hospitalized after police say a teenager started slashing people at his grandparents' Sitka home Tuesday, just a day after being released from jail on a domestic violence assault charge.
Jason Abbott, 18, was being held in connection with the attacks, reported at about 11:45 a.m. in a frantic 911 call in which the caller reported a "guy outside stabbing people" as people screamed in the background, Police Chief Sheldon Schmitt said.
Three of the victims were stabbed in the home, and two were stabbed outside, he said.
Three victims died at the scene and one died later at a local hospital. The fifth victim was hospitalized and remained in serious condition Tuesday night, Schmitt said.
Police arriving at the house on Monastery Street found Abbott standing in front wielding a 5-inch knife. They used a stun gun to subdue him, Schmitt said.
"When the police contacted him, he had a knife in his hand and police had to take him down," Schmitt said. "He fought with the police officers."
During the scuffle, Abbott suffered an injury near his eye, apparently when he fell on the knife he was holding, Schmitt said. Abbott was taken to a hospital, treated, then taken to the Sitka jail.
Charges likely will be filed today once the district attorney is able to review the case and evidence, which was being collected into the night, Schmitt said. Two forensic scientists with the state crime lab were headed to Sitka -- about 600 miles southeast of Anchorage -- to help process the scene.
Police did not immediately release the names of the victims. But neighbors who saw parts of the attacks recognized two of them.
The Rev. Chuck Johnson, who lives several doors away from the home at 524 Monastery St., said he stepped out of his home and saw Alice Abbott, Jason's grandmother, come out her front door covered in blood.
Two boys who seemed to know Jason Abbott were coming down the street and began talking to him, apparently trying to keep him away from her, he said.
"Some of the action took place in the front yard," Johnson said. "They saw it just as the grandmother came out with blood all over her. I guess he was going to stab his grandmother some more. They weren't able to stop him."
Alice Abbott lived at the home with her husband, John, a retired meter-reader, and they also rented rooms, Johnson said. He said he couldn't see the other victims.
Margaret Hope lives two doors down and saw police arriving. She said she knows John and Alice Abbott and had seen the man with the knife before but didn't know his name.
"He was screaming, 'God help me,' that's all I heard," she said. "All I saw was a bunch of (police) cars out front and a bunch of ambulances. There was people running back and forth. It was just chaos."
Abbott, who has a series of charges as a minor consuming alcohol in court records, was arrested Easter Sunday on a domestic violence assault charge, Schmitt said. He wouldn't say whether the assault was directed toward Abbott's grandparents, and a copy of the charging documents in Sitka was not immediately available. The Daily Sitka Sentinel reported that the address associated with that charge was not the Monastery Street location where the killings took place.
Abbott had gone to Sitka School District schools but dropped out before graduation, said superintendent Steve Bradshaw. At one point Abbott was going to an alternative school, which is designed for students who don't mesh with the traditional schooling model, Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw wouldn't comment specifically about Abbott's personality or his interests.
"We're going to go through some trying times in the next couple days," he said. "We do have some students in the district that are related to the family. Most of the kids have gone to middle or grade school with this kid."
The last homicide in Sitka was in 1996, Schmitt said, and there has never been a multiple killing such as the one that took place Tuesday in the small town of roughly 9,000 people.
"Nothing like this has ever happened," he said. "This really shakes the town to its roots."
Find James Halpin online at adn.com/contact/jhalpin or call him at 257-4589.