Two teenagers have been arrested in connection with an alleged armed robbery in downtown Sitka late Saturday night. 

Shortly before midnight on Saturday (3-18-23), 19-year-old John Brannon Horner-Raffaele and an unnamed 17-year-old allegedly entered Ernie’s Saloon on Lincoln Street and attempted to steal the DJ’s tip jar. 

According to court documents, the 17-year-old entered the bar through the back door wearing a ski mask, while Horner-Raffaele waited in the back alley armed with a handgun. The juvenile allegedly grabbed the cash from the DJ’s tip jar and ran. Two bar patrons chased them to the intersection of American and Race Street in an attempt to recover the money. At that point Horner-Raffaele brandished a handgun at one of the patrons, before the pair fled the scene, according to a sworn statement by Sitka Police Sergeant Lance Ewers.

Ewers located the alleged robbers on Oja Street walking toward Baranof Elementary School. Ewers arrested the 17-year-old, but Horner-Raffaele remained on the loose until a community tip led to his arrest around 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Around 1 a.m., police obtained a warrant to search the home where the 17-year-old was living. They found an orange backpack with cash from the bar — a $20 and a $10 dollar bill, both ripped and unusable, and a $1 dollar bill. Bar manager Peter Menendez told police that they put their ripped and damaged money inside the tip jar to encourage people to add cash to the pot. 

Horner-Raffaele pleaded not guilty in Sitka Superior Court on Monday (3-20-23). He was charged with one count of armed robbery with a deadly weapon, a Class A felony, and one count of assault in the third degree for causing fear of injury with a weapon, a Class C felony. 

No one was injured, according to a statement from bar manager Menendez on the Ernie’s Saloon Facebook page. Menendez thanked Sitka Police for their fast response.