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Kotlik man twice escapes jail cell

Jerzy Shedlock

Alex Bender, 23, has been charged with two counts of harassment, two counts of fourth-degree assault, criminal mischief and escaping a correctional facility following accusations of a day of rowdy and dangerous behavior.

An Alaska state trooper wrote in an affidavit that after Bender drank a half-gallon of booze with two other people in Kotlik and then got violent, he escaped police custody twice.

Trooper William Connors responded to Kotlik, a village of 644 residents in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, around 1:30 a.m. May 21 after getting a call from the community's police department. Kotlik police reported Bender was at a residence threatening two people with a knife, according to the charges.

Approximately 15 minutes after the call, Connors arrived at the residence of worried resident Dominic Waska, who was standing outside his home while Bender hung out in its arctic entryway, according to the charges. A village public safety officer placed Bender in handcuffs, and the trooper entered the home with Waska.

Waska told the trooper that "there were three people" -- Waska, Bender and a woman -- "and they shared a half-gallon" of booze. Before police arrived, Bender allegedly pulled out a knife, waved it in the air and then brandished the weapon toward the woman. She fled the home and was later discovered by Connors kneeling on the tundra at the edge of town, according to the charges.

The charges also say Bender also stabbed the door of the home, breaking the blade of the knife in the process, after Waska kicked him out.

Back at the police department, Bender was told he'd stay there until he sobered up. This upset Bender and he "began to urinate on the floor and through the door (of the jail cell) in the direction of all law enforcement personnel," the charges say.

Connors went to check on Bender early in the morning on the day of the arrest, only to discover Bender outside the police department yelling at an officer. The trooper re-arrested Bender and discovered the inmate had kicked a hole in the back of his cell, according to the charges.

"Alex kicked the wall enough times to open a hole through the outside and then crawled through the hole and left the vicinity of the police department," according to the charges.

The trooper said Bender once again erupted in anger when he was told he faced a fourth-degree assault charge. Connors left to get a bite to eat, but shortly after he left the police department, the jail guard called him -- Bender had escaped again, according to the charges.

The Kotlik Police Department declined to comment on the quality or repair of the jail cell.

Connors reported that he ran back to the station.

"The jail guard informed me that Alex had kicked the door open in the cell and made verbal threats to harm him," the trooper wrote in the affidavit. The guard further told the trooper that "Alex chased him out of the police department and he called me as he was running."

Bender was arrested a short time later at his grandmother's home. He allegedly spat into the eyes of a village public safety officer while being placed into a cell for the third time.


By JERZY SHEDLOCK
jerzy@alaskadispatch.com