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Teller Man Arrested for Terroristic Threatening

The community of Teller as seen from the one road leading into the city. Photo from KNOM file.

A Teller man has been arrested and transported to Nome’s Anvil Mountain Correctional Center following allegations of threatening to burn down a house, according to an affidavit from Alaska State Troopers.

The affidavit reports that Chester Topkok, 26, was reported by his niece, Belinda Smith, who called Troopers on June 8 at 6:59 p.m. Smith stated that Topkok was attempting to set her home on fire. Belinda reported that she witnessed Topkok pouring lighter fluid onto the floor and brandishing a lighter while saying, “Are y’all ready to burn?”

According to the report, Smith quickly grabbed her infant son and fled the house, fearing for their safety. When Trooper Colten Buie arrived, he found Topkok’s mother, Etta Kugzruk, visibly shaken. Kugzruk indicated that she had not witnessed the act but was alarmed by Topkok’s behavior and retreated with several small children when Trooper Buie entered the home.

Topkok denied the accusations, claiming he was merely refilling his lighter. However, Trooper Buie found lighter fluid and multiple lighters on Topkok’s person. The area where the lighter fluid was allegedly poured smelled of cleaning supplies, suggesting an attempt to clean up.

Topkok, who was already under conditions of release for two separate cases, was arrested and charged with Terroristic Threatening in the Second Degree, Assault in the Fourth Degree, and Violating Conditions of Release. He was transported to Anvil Mountain Correctional Center in Nome.

Topkok’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 19 at 2:30 p.m. at the Nome Courthouse. He will be represented by a public defender at the hearing.

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