Crime & Courts

Fight at Anchorage middle school led to attack on officer, police say

Anchorage’s Clark Middle School went into a brief lockdown Tuesday as four teenagers tried to break into an administrative office after a fight at the school and then refused to follow orders, police said.

School officials said Wednesday that the incident — which principal Bennetta Orchitt described in a message to families as “not typical for the Clark community” — will prompt security changes, including a new entry system at the doors.

One of the teens hit an Anchorage Police Department school resource officer in the face while another “began throwing items at the glass window while ignoring officer commands,” police said in an update. The officer deployed a Taser to keep the teens from forcibly entering the office, they said.

A total of 10 officers responded to the school during the incident, including four school resource officers and a sergeant as well as five patrol officers, police said Wednesday.

The four teens were not armed, said police spokeswoman Sunny Guerin.

The incident was originally reported as a disturbance that drew school resource and day shift officers to the Mountain View school starting around noon Tuesday.

That call was prompted by the aftermath of a physical flight between two Clark students that led one to call three high-school-aged teens to come help, according to the police update.


The older teens came through Clark’s main entrance, which is the only door that’s unlocked during the school day, according to an Anchorage School District spokesperson.

School district staff separated the students and put the school on lockdown. One student was in the administrative office and the other student — along with the three high-school-aged teens — were in the common area, according to the update. Those four teens began to “forcefully attempt to break windows and doors to gain entry to the administrative office where staff and students were located,” police said.

Clark’s assigned school resource officer, following up on another case, came to the area at 11:55 a.m. and “attempted to diffuse the situation” while calling for backup, police said.

A second SRO arrived shortly thereafter, police spokeswoman Renee Oistad said Wednesday. The teens refused to cooperate and continued to ignore the officers’ commands, police said.

One of the officers deployed their pepper spray “to gain control of the situation until back up officers arrived,” the update said.

The school officers requested backup from patrol officers at 12:36 p.m. “when the situation escalated due to more people arriving at the school and getting involved in the altercation,” Oistad wrote in an email.

The patrol officers began arriving two minutes later, she said.

The teens were taken out of the school, police said. They were treated by medics for pepper-spray exposure; one was treated in relation to the Taser deployment, they said.

The officer who was assaulted had minor injuries, Guerin said.

In a message to families on Tuesday, principal Orchitt said there were no injuries.

Orchitt in her message Wednesday said the school plans to make security changes, including a new “buzz-in” system at the doors “to ensure only our Clark MS community members can enter the school. We will provide more information about this new system and other upgrades as we prepare for school in the Fall.”

Clark Middle School added extra mental health support at the school Wednesday to work with students and staff, resources that Orchitt said would continue as needed.

The four teens were arrested and charges were forwarded to the Division of Juvenile Justice, according to police. Orchitt described the situation as a “domestic incident” that involved adults and juvenile community members.

The school was on lockdown for roughly a half-hour during the incident, Anchorage School District spokesman MJ Thim said.

Police are not releasing additional information about the teens involved, including their ages or gender, because they are juveniles, Oistad said Wednesday.