Police arrest man after he swims in slough

A man who twice evaded Homer Police after they responded to reports of criminal mischief and assault on Sunday eventually got caught dripping wet after a swim in Beluga Slough. Homer Police arrested Jason Christman, 40, in the yard of an Ocean Drive Loop home after catching up with him when he ran down Bishop’s Beach, jumped in the icy water and swam across the mouth of the slough between the beach and the Munson Point neighborhood.

Christman faces charges of three counts of fourth-degree assault, domestic violence; second-degree burglary, third-degree criminal mischief, both felonies; and fifth-degree criminal mischief. At his arraignment on Monday, Superior Court Judge Anna Moran dismissed a fourth count of fourth-degree assault for lack of probable cause.

Homer Police Chief Mark Robl said police first went to a Main Street address north of Pioneer Avenue at about 8:50 a.m. Dec. 31 for a report that Christman broke a window at the home of a couple related to him.

“He just for whatever reason started yelling and cursing and threw a sledgehammer head through a window,” Robl said.

Robl said Christman did not physically harm anyone in two incidents that happened on Sunday.

Homer Police Officer Ed Stading responded and found Christman had left. According to charging documents, a man at the Main Street home told Stading that Christman had recently returned to Alaska and acted weird. Christman had a small cabin on their property, the couple told police. The man said he feared Christman enough that he recently bought a firearm to protect himself and his family.

Stading then got a report that Christman had gone to a nearby coffee shop. Stading saw him on Pioneer Avenue and told Christman to stop, but Christman ran into the woods along Main Street and then to Bishop’s Beach. Police lost contact with Christman.

At about 10:55 a.m., police got another call that Christman had returned to the Main Street home and damaged more property. Police responded and again found more broken windows. Stading wrote in the complaint that the man at the house said he saw Christman breaking windows at a greenhouse near a small cabin on the property. Stading went to the cabin and found Christman had left. A yurt had been slashed, a door kicked in and windows broken out, with about $6,200 in damages caused in both incidents.

At about noon, Stading wrote, a man called police to say that Christman called him with a cryptic message saying “Bishop’s Beach; no witnesses.” The man told police he interpreted that to mean Christman challenged him to fight. Stading, Homer Police Officer Nathan Hull and an Alaska State Trooper went to Bishop’s Beach and found Christman.

“He ran toward the slough, then jumped in and swam across,” Robl said.

According to National Weather Service records, the high temperature for Sunday was 41 degrees. The ocean temperature at noon Sunday at a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data buoy at the Homer Harbor was 40 degrees. High tide at 12:36 p.m. was a 21.1 foot tide. Robl said police did not go into the water after Christman.

“Quite frankly we thought it might be a rescue situation, but it turned out he (Christman) made it through with no problem,” Robl said.

Police caught up with Christman as they checked homes in the Ocean Drive Loop neighborhood. A road curves west and then south around Beluga Slough toward Kachemak Bay, ending at a house on the bluff.

Officer Hull wrote in a criminal complaint for the burglary charges that as he walked toward the house at the end of Ocean Drive Loop he heard a man yelling “Get off my property.” Hull saw Christman and arrested him without incident. The resident of the home told Hull he had come out to his pottery studio to check on some pottery. When he opened the front door he saw a man later identified as Christman leave through the back door. The man said he could see where Christman hid because of a large amount of water on the floor. A latch had been broken and insulation moved when someone broke into the shop, causing minor damage.

Christman did not need medical treatment after he swam in the slough, Robl said. Police took Christman to the Homer Jail and he was later transferred to Wildwood Pretrial Facility in Kenai.

In his complaint, Stading said a woman related to Christman told police she had gone to South Peninsula Haven House because she had been scared of what Christman said. She told police Christman had been verbally abusive to her and threatened to harm her and her children. Police said they later found a single-shot black-powder percussion pistol at Christman’s cabin.

Judge Moran arraigned Christman at a hearing on Monday. She set bail at a $5,000 performance bond, meaning he has to attend all court hearings or forfeit the amount. She also ordered him not to contact his alleged victims and to stay away from their homes and that he not possess weapons. According to online prison records, as of Tuesday Christman remained at Wildwood Pretrial.

Reach Michael Armstrong at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.