Molly Yerkes, principal of Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School, center, coordinates as students are escorted to their parents’ vehicles on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Molly Yerkes, principal of Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School, center, coordinates as students are escorted to their parents’ vehicles on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Police search for shooter puts middle school in ‘stay put’ mode

Officers looking for Thanksgiving shooter near Dzantik’i Heeni

As police searched for a wanted man in the Lemon Creek area, Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School was on lockdown, according to an email sent to parents of DHMS students Tuesday.

Juneau Police Department Lt. Krag Campbell said the department got a tip that Micah Nelson, the suspect in a non-fatal shooting on Thanksgiving, was at a home in Switzer Village in the Lemon Creek area. When officers got there, Campbell said, Nelson took off running into the woods above the Gruening Park Apartments.

Campbell said JPD notified the school as a precaution.

“We had no indication today that Nelson was armed and no reason to believe the school was in danger,” Campbell said via text message.

As of about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, the school was in “stay put” mode, where students are not allowed to leave the building, according to an email to parents from DHMS Principal Molly Yerkes. JPD officers were on school grounds to further protect students, the email said.

Students who walk home were kept in the school until their parents could pick them up or until the “stay put” status was lifted, the email stated. Students who take the bus were escorted to the buses.

Yerkes was not available for comment at about 3 p.m., and staff members declined to comment on whether the school was still in “stay put” mode.

Campbell said officers (including Alaska State Troopers) stopped their search around 3 p.m., and Campbell said he believes the school’s “stay put” status was lifted around that time.

Nelson, 27, two felony warrants out for his arrest, for probation and parole violations, in addition to being the suspect in the Thanksgiving shooting, according to a JPD release last week. That shooting took place in the 1000 block of Coogan Drive, and was believed to be in connection to the sale of narcotics, police said. The victim, a 46-year-old man, was shot in the shoulder and was in stable condition at the hospital shortly after the shooting, the JPD release said at the time.

Through interview with witnesses on Thanksgiving, police said they believed the shooting was an “isolated incident,” and that the two men knew each other. Still, police said people shouldn’t approach Nelson if they see him. If people see Nelson, they should call JPD at 586-0600.


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


The Juneau Police Department is looking to talk with Micah Nelson, pictured, about a shooting that happened on Thanksgiving. (Courtesy Photo | Juneau Police Department)

The Juneau Police Department is looking to talk with Micah Nelson, pictured, about a shooting that happened on Thanksgiving. (Courtesy Photo | Juneau Police Department)

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