A Juneau man was arrested Monday in connection with a break-in Sunday morning at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center that caused a temporary closure of the center and surrounding trails.
Security cameras caught a man breaking in to the visitor center and the Discovery Southeast bookstore at approximately 4:30 a.m., “well before the start of operating hours (at 8 a.m.),” said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Paul Robbins Jr.
The ranger on duty contacted the Juneau Police Department and decided for the safety of visitors to close the center, the road that accesses the glacier and the trails, Robbins said.
“We weren’t sure if (the person was) still in the center, until police got in there and made sure the area was safe,” he added.
JPD officers responded and discovered a ground-level window had been broken, JPD Lt. David Campbell said in a press release. Officers also located a car parked outside the visitor center that is commonly associated with Mack A. Parker, 51, Campbell said.
Officers heard the sound of someone inside the structure and unsuccessfully tried to set up a security perimeter around the building. They saw a man they reportedly recognized as Parker fleeing down a trail and into the woods, but were unable to locate him.
Detectives responded to the visitor center to process the area for evidence, and security footage allegedly showed Parker inside the building taking property, Campbell said. Multiple items were reported as missing, but the overall value of the stolen items has not yet been determined.
At approximately noon in Monday, Parker was located inside a residence in the 9200 block of James Boulevard. He was arrested for second-degree burglary, taken to the Lemon Creek Correctional Center and held with no bail.
The investigation is continuing. Parker’s criminal history includes a 2001 conviction for first-degree robbery. He was arrested a week prior to the break-in, on June 25, and charged with being a felon in possession of a weapon.
The Forest Service was able to reopen the center and the trails a little after noon Sunday, after JPD let staff know the suspect was no longer in the vicinity.
“Our staff did a great job of cleaning up the glass and getting everything ready to go,” Robbins said.
The spokesman estimated that as many as 3,500 visitors were affected by the closure and said that during the summer months Mendenhall Glacier sees about 5,000 visitors a day.
“We’re hoping a lot of them were able to change their plans and come see us that afternoon,” Robbins said. “We really appreciate everyone’s concern and of course their cooperation.”
• Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 523-2246 or email@example.com.