Petersburg inmate caught by police

Petersburg Police have apprehended an inmate who escaped from the Petersburg jail Friday morning.

Jacob Sturgeon (Photo courtesy of the Petersburg Police Department)
Jacob Sturgeon (Photo courtesy of the Petersburg Police Department)

Police chief Kelly Swihart says officers arrested 22-year-old Jacob Sturgeon of Petersburg just before 4 p.m. Friday in a shed behind a home on Lumber Street near downtown Petersburg. Swihart says Sturgeon was on the second floor of that shed and officers used pepper spray to get him to come out and give himself up. Swihart says Sturgeon was carrying a knife but gave himself up without incident.

“Yeah I wanted to say that I really appreciate the public being involved and calling in their information, ultimately helped us out and lead to his arrest. It was a pretty challenging situation at times but I do think it turned out as well as it could. We were able to take him into custody without too much of a disturbance. None of the good guys were hurt. Sturgeon was not hurt. And we were able to maintain all our equipment and not have any breakages there, so overall pretty challenging but I think it turned out as well as it could.”

Sturgeon escaped from the jail building after a bail hearing Friday morning. He attended that hearing on the telephone from the Petersburg jail. Police say he escaped out the back door of the jail when an officer was moving him back into his primary cell after that hearing. The officer chased Sturgeon into the Hammer Slough area where he disappeared. KFSK heard reports of Sturgeon coming up Hammer Slough and running past the borough’s public works shop, shedding his prison shirt and shoes.

Petersburg schools and other public buildings were locked down Friday. Students did not have classes at the middle and high school today but did at the elementary school and that building went into a lockdown Friday morning. School superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter was in Wrangell with high school basketball teams Friday but was checking in with the schools principals in Petersburg throughout the day.

“There was no specific information that he was coming towards the school and actually I don’t believe anybody ever had any sighting near the school. But we just felt it was best because it was such an unpredictable situation that it was just best to just kind of take some extra precaution here. The kids all know how to do that, staff does, everybody just went into that mode and just stayed calm and continued on with the day.”

The elementary school also cancelled bussing in the afternoon and had parents pick up their children as an additional precaution.  A middle school wrestling tournament involving kids from several other Southeast towns was still going forward Friday afternoon.

Petersburg’s hospital building and community gym were also locked down.

Police initially attempted to arrest Sturgeon on Friday, February 5th at a residence on Lumber Street following a report of an assault. Sturgeon allegedly pushed down an officer and ran into the wooded area behind Lumber Street.

Officers found a handgun on the trail where they were chasing him. They believe Sturgeon dropped the gun but have been unable to confirm that yet. Sturgeon was later arrested on two counts of assault and one count of resisting arrest. Sturgeon’s bail was set at $500 in that case, despite an unsuccessful request  by his attorney to reduce the bail amount Friday morning.

Sturgeon is likely facing additional charges and a higher bail amount with the latest escape.