Crime & Courts

Cordova police apprehend man they say escaped from jail after attacking correctional officer

A Cordova man who police say assaulted a correctional officer and then escaped from jail Sunday morning faces charges of attempted murder and kidnapping after being taken back into custody the next day.

Andrew Ronald-Dale Johnson, 35, was arrested early Monday and returned to the Cordova Jail after authorities put the community on “high alert,” and warned residents to lock up doors, boats and vehicles and avoid confronting the escapee.

Johnson was initially jailed last week after being arrested Thursday on misdemeanor charges of harassment, assault and violating conditions of release. He was arrested earlier this year in two separate cases involving drug and weapons offenses, according to a state courts database that listed no criminal charges on his record before December.

While in custody at the Cordova Jail, Johnson threw hot coffee in a correctional officer’s face and began attacking him Sunday morning, according to a sworn affidavit filed with the new charges by police officer Cameron Hayden.

Johnson used leg restraints to secure the officer to a table in the booking room and took his cellphone, the affidavit said. He ripped the landline telephones from the wall so the officer would be unable to call for help, the affidavit said.

The officer’s injuries were evaluated at the clinic and he returned home Sunday, city manager Helen Howarth said Tuesday.

Security camera footage Sunday showed Johnson walking from the jail and onto Main Street, according to the affidavit.


The city asked for the public’s help finding Johnson, who was described in an online alert as “extremely dangerous, agitated and volatile.”

Officials received a number of tips about Johnson’s location, and Howarth said that’s how police eventually located him, around 1 a.m. Monday.

“It’s a small town, it’s not like Anchorage where people can hide — there’s no roads out. It’s the ferry or the planes, so this individual wasn’t going to easily get out of town,” she said. “So it was really just a matter of spreading the word throughout the community.”

Johnson was arrested without incident, Howarth said. He was charged Monday with attempted murder, kidnapping, escape, robbery, theft, criminal mischief and six counts of assault.

“He is in custody in our small jail, in the same building that he escaped from, with the same individuals who were victims of his escape,” she said. “They’re holding themselves together and are really being professional and they’re waiting for the state to come and get him and transport him to a more appropriate holding facility.”

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at