HATS OFF – Sitka High School graduates toss their mortarboards in the air after receiving their degrees Monday night in the Sitka High gym. This year 74 seniors graduated in a ceremony that included addresses by teacher Howard Wayne and class representative Nai’a Nelson, a performance by the symphonic band and a video of graduates. A car parade was held after the ceremony. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

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Daily Sitka Sentinel

Robbery at Sitka Bar Ends With Two Arrests


Sentinel Staff Writer

A Sitka man and a 17-year-old juvenile have been arrested in connection with an alleged robbery involving the DJ’s tip jar at Ernie’s Old Time Saloon around midnight Saturday.

John B. Horner-Raffaele, 19, is being held on charges of robbery in the first degree and assault in the third degree, and the juvenile was detained and is to be taken into custody by juvenile authorities, police said today.

The criminal complaint filed by police gives this account of the theft and its aftermath.

Shortly before midnight Saturday patrons and staff at Ernie’s bar saw a man in dark clothes and wearing a ski mask and gloves come in through the back door, grab the DJ’s tip jar and run back out. One of the men in the bar tried to grab the jar back, but was unsuccessful. He and another patron began to chase the robber, who was joined by Horner-Raffaele who had been waiting outside. Followed closely by the two men from the bar, Horner-Raffaele and the other suspect ran up the walkway next to Ernie’s, across the Pioneer Home grounds, then toward American Street.

At the intersection of Race and American streets, the fleeing suspects stopped and one of them allegedly pointed a gun at one of the pursuers. The two bar patrons returned to Ernie’s. The bar manager called police at 12:01 a.m., and officers began a search for the suspects in the downtown area. Shortly later, the two were spotted as they walked east on Oja Street toward Baranof School.

Both took off running, but the officer apprehended the 17-year-old suspect, police said. The other continued running, police public information officer Serena Wild said today. 

At around 9:15 a.m. Sunday police posted a bulletin on social media seeking information on Horner-Raffaele’s whereabouts. A tip came in within an hour, advising police where to find him, and he was located near the Sitka Public Library. He ran off and was caught by police after a brief foot pursuit, Wild said.

Most of the stolen money, reportedly around $7, was recovered. Police served a search warrant on Sunday, searched the residence where the juvenile was living, and “found property taken from Ernie’s bar by the defendant,” police said.

“The property found ... was one unusable ripped piece of a $10 bill, one unusable ripped piece of a $20 and one usable 3/4 ripped one dollar bill,” police said. Ernie’s manager Pete Menendez told police the bar puts ripped or damaged money inside the tip jar in hopes other people will see it and add their money to the tip jar, the complaint said.

Bail was set at today’s arraignment at $110,000 for Horner-Raffaele. The robbery charge says he was “armed with a deadly weapon or represented by words or other conduct that he or another participant was so armed.” The assault charge says he “recklessly placed another person in fear of imminent serious physical injury by means of a dangerous instrument.”

An Ernie’s employee on the bar’s social media page Sunday afternoon thanked Sitka Police for the quick response time and prompt handling of the case. “Well done SPD!!” the employee said.



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May 2004

Dr. Arthur Cleveland, a former dean at Columbus State University in Georgia, was named the new president of Sheldon Jackson College, SJC officials announced today. He will be replacing C. Carlyle Haaland, who has held the position for four years.


May 1974

Coaching and managing the Little League teams this year are John Abbott and John Calhoun, ANB; Dale and DeWayne Vilandre, Alaska Federal; Walt Barker, Elks; Frank Simmons and Frank Vilandre, Lions; Leo Bacon, Pat Ness, Cliff Robards and Bob Edenso, Moose; and Everett Webb, Sportsmen. Head umpire is Carl Karpstein.


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