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Rural Alaska

The alert went out on VHF radio. Two Kotlik residents rushed to the school to confront a teen with a knife.

Kotlik. (Lisa Demer / ADN file photo)

Two residents in the Western Alaska village of Kotlik were stabbed as they fought to keep a teenager with a butcher knife from breaking into the school, with others holding the suspect as they waited for Alaska State Troopers to fly in, according to newly released charging documents in the case.

Charging documents reveal new details of the incident, which happened Friday in the 600-resident community, near the mouth of the Yukon River near the Bering Sea coast.

The stabbings come less than two months after the community lost its village hall to a suspected arson fire.

The trouble began between 12:45 and 1 p.m.on Friday, when prosecutors say 19-year-old Rick Andrews approached the Kotlik school holding an eight-inch butcher knife, according to a sworn statement filed by William Connors of the Alaska State Troopers.

Andrews was angry with the school principal and was "coming to the school to confront him," said Hannibal Anderson, an assistant superintendent with the Lower Yukon School District.

Rick Andrews attended high school in Kotlik but did not graduate, said Anderson.
On any given day, a quarter or more of the village's population could have been inside the K-12 school: It enrolls about 175 students and has roughly 15-20 employees, according to the district.

Principal Cory Stringer put the school into a lockdown, with children gathering in the lunch room and gym, and an adult guarding each door.

A custodian locked the front doors, the only doors left open during the school day, according to Anderson.

At the front doors, Andrews threatened to kill Stringer with a knife, the charges say.

Stringer, the principal, used VHF radio to alert other village residents of the knife-wielding man at the school door.

Two residents, identified in charging documents as Frank Aparezuk and Jomary Lupsin, went to the school and followed Andrews as he "went behind the school to try and enter it from the back door."

"Frank (Aparezuk) was in fear for the lives of the children so he grabbed a piece of metal rebar," the charges say. "When Rick (Andrews) saw this he came at Frank with the knife trying to stab him."

Aparezuk was stabbed in the torso. He fell and dropped the metal rebar, which Andrews grabbed and hit him with, the charges say.

Then Lupsin tried to grab the knife from Andrews, who charging documents identify as her brother. She was stabbed in the stomach. She managed to get the knife from Andrews and threw it away from him, the charges say.

Andrews ran away. Two other Kotlik residents grabbed him and held him until Alaska State Troopers arrived, according to the charges.

Connors, the trooper, wrote that he arrived in the village by plane at 3:05 p.m.  — about two hours after the incident began.

Kotlik has a village police officer, said tribal administrator Pauline Okitkun.

It wasn't clear whether the VPO was around as the incident was unfolding.
"People were calling the VPO number and it was going direct from the voicemail to the troopers," she said.

Aparezuk lost "more than a pint of blood" in the stabbing, according to the charges. His clothes were saturated with blood. Lupsin had a puncture wound in her stomach.

Both were taken to the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Center in Bethel for treatment.
People are thankful the village residents intervened, said Anderson, the school district assistant superintendent.

"We're really glad the person was not able to get into the building," said Anderson of the school district. "We appreciate the help the members of the community provided."

On Monday, a hospital representative said they could not confirm whether Lupsin and Aparezuk were patients or their conditions.

Andrews was arraigned on Saturday in Bethel. He has no adult criminal record beyond a pending misdemeanor assault charge from November 2017.

His next court date is May 22.

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