Archive for June, 2012
By Caleb Hutton
The sheriff’s office tied up a few loose ends in the death of Belinda Barnett, 45, on Friday afternoon, June 29.
Barnett died this week in a doublewide mobile home fire at 6128 Poppy Court, in the Paradise Lakes area. She was under investigation for a $105,710 theft from Swan’s Moving and Storage in Bellingham, the sheriff’s office disclosed Friday.
A detective had tried to talk to Barnett early Wednesday, first by knocking on her door, then by using a neighbor’s telephone. But Barnett didn’t answer the door.
Firefighters arrived about 9:15 a.m. to find her home on fire. Barnett’s body was found near the front door. She died from smoke inhalation, Dr. Gary Goldfogel said. Goldfogel called the death a “likely suicide.”
The sheriff’s office put the following in writing on Friday:
It is suspected that Barnett may have been despondent over the criminal investigation into a substantial theft from her employer, Swan’s Moving and Storage in Bellingham, where she worked between May 2010 and January 2012.
Deputies had probable cause to arrest her for three counts of first-degree theft.
Here are a few photos, shot on a cell phone Thursday evening, showing the home. In the first photo, taken from the driveway, you can see the worst of the damage is at the back of the house where the master bedroom was. Surprising how much of the home was left.
By Caleb Hutton
BELLINGHAM — A man ran away from Bellingham Municipal Court after he informed the judge his bail was set too high, police said.
Michael Ronald William Ackerman, 21, was in court at 11:20 a.m. for a domestic violence no-contact order case. When the judge told him his bail would be set at $2,000, Ackerman contended he wouldn’t be able to post bond, said Bellingham police spokesman Mark Young.
Officers were en route to the courthouse, so they could escort Ackerman to jail, when the would-be inmate ran out of the courtroom, Young said. At the time, police radioed the suspect had possibly tried to escape by bicycle, but Young didn’t see anything about a bike in the police report.
Ackerman was found hiding behind a house in the 2400 block of F Street, a few blocks away. He was booked into jail on the original charges: two counts of violating an anti-harassment order.
He has two ongoing Superior Court cases, one where he’s charged with buying heroin and another where he’s charged with possessing a glass pipe with methamphetamine residue on it.
Ackerman also pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery when he was 17 years old. According to court records, he stole a schoolmate’s wallet, with $480 and debit cards inside, by threatening to hit him with a rock.
(Disclaimer on the map: I don’t know the alleged route Ackerman took.)
By Caleb Hutton
In this YouTube video, Jim Baron, manager of the Northwest Washington Fair, points out some new security features at the upcoming fair.
For some context, here’s the story we had above the fold Wednesday, June 27. The online comments section was a flurry of debate — with many asking exactly how security guards and police plan to pick out who won’t be admitted.
The video was posted Wednesday to the fair’s Facebook page.
And here’s a link to a commentary about the video by Gerald Baron, Jim’s brother, who blogs about crisis communication. Gerald’s new production company put the video together.
By Caleb Hutton
An update on the reopening of the Interstate 5 on-ramp at Samish Way, via state Department of Transportation spokesman Dustin Terpening:
— Dustin Terpening (@Terpening) June 28, 2012
By Caleb Hutton
LUMMI RESERVATION — A Blaine woman was sentenced to 30 days in jail for trying to steal a lost wallet.
In March, another woman was playing the slot machines at the Silver Reef Casino when she “unknowingly dropped her wallet on the floor,” according to charging documents. The wallet had debit and credit cards inside.
Surveillance cameras caught Julie Rene Wilburn, 53, picking up the wallet. She took the wallet to her car.
Wilburn confessed to the theft after casino employees confronted her. When the wallet was returned, the victim’s debit and credit cards were still inside, but a Fandango gift card and $20 were missing.
Wilburn pleaded guilty to second-degree theft in April. She started serving her sentence Wednesday, June 27. In a plea deal, charges of methamphetamine possession — filed in a separate case a couple months earlier — were dropped by prosecutors.
Wilburn had a handful of gross misdemeanors on her record. This was her first felony.
By Caleb Hutton
Via scanner traffic:
7:20 a.m. Two-car crash at East Main and Shuksan streets. One driver fled the scene; the other was a 20-year-old woman with arm and chest pain, possibly from an airbag deploying. She declined medical aid. Didn’t hear an update on the other driver.
8 a.m. Troopers were helping to clear mattresses from Interstate 5, near the Meridian Street exit.
8:15 a.m. Report of a fire inside a home at 154 E. Wiser Lake Road. A few minutes later dispatchers updated firefighters responding to the scene: The had been extinguished.
8:30 a.m. Dump truck and semi truck collision at Hannegan Road and Sunset Drive. No request for medical aid. Traffic was slowed but still able to get through.
9:15 a.m. Fire District 14 responding to smoke and flames in home in 6100 block of Poppy Court. We have a call out to the chief, seeking an update.
10:10 a.m. Somebody suffered a knee injury on the trails around Lake Padden, near the dog park. Fifteen minutes later, additional manpower was requested.
10:15 a.m. A group of dogs was blocking the road on Lummi Shore Drive.
11:10 a.m. Hit and run at Rite Aid, 222 Telegraph Road. An unoccupied Jeep Liberty was struck by a blue Chevy Avalanche that was towing a tan trailer, last seen southbound on Meridian Street. Nobody managed to jot down a license plate for the Avalanche.
Posted by Caleb Hutton
Text courtesy of the Blaine Police Department, with minor edits for style.
Wednesday, June 20
10:30 p.m. Residents on Cedar Street reported four adolescents were making a nuisance of themselves, knocking on doors and ringing doorbells then running off into the dark. The obnoxious ninjas were caught by officers a short distance away, and turned over to two groups of parents who accepted responsibility for them for the remainder of the night.
10:49 p.m. A man asked friends to check on his home on Harbor Side Avenue while he was away, but when the friends pulled up to the house late at night, they were certain that they saw a shadowy figure inside, silhouetted against a window. They called police, and two officers arrived to search the home. The resident’s house-bound pet birds and frustrated cat were delighted to see the police, and the police were delighted to see only the cat and birds.
Thursday, June 21
4:10 p.m. Police were dispatched to the Peace Arch Port of Entry when Customs officers found a 19-year-old Lynnwood resident in possession of alcohol. A Blaine Officer arrived at the port, investigated, and impounded the teenager’s bottle of mango-flavored vodka. He was cited and released with a mandatory court date.
Friday, June 22
12:30 a.m. A passerby reported seeing an occupied suspicious vehicle parked on Marine Drive near the harbor. Police responded and checked the pickup truck. The gent inside lives on a boat in the harbor, but doesn’t have an AM radio on board. He was sitting in his truck listening to every insomniac’s favorite late night talk show, Coast to Coast AM.
5:05 a.m. Police received a report of people standing outside on School Drive apparently having a yelling contest that was waking up the neighbors. Followup revealed the disorderly group had been going at it off and on all night, repeatedly making a nuisance of themselves. An officer located the intoxicated couple who were responsible and advised them future calls would result in a criminal citation.
Sunday, June 24
12:50 p.m. A resident of Ninth Street reported her teenage son had run away, or at least had left the previous afternoon and did not come home all night. The boy is non-compliant at the best of times, and mom figured he ran away again because he supposed to report to juvenile detention next week to do time for previous probation violations. Police searched for but did not find the 15-year-old boy. He showed up later in the afternoon, saying he’d fallen asleep at a friend’s house.
3:57 p.m. Passersby spotted an oversized teenager clinging to a undersized tricycle hurtling along 16th Street, and called police to report the anomaly. An officer found the tricycle sitting at the road’s edge, still tethered to the rear bumper of the Mercedes that had been pulling the thrill seeker down the road. The pilot and his flight crew received a lecture about the legal, medical and dental hazards of the stunt. The driver of the car received all of the above plus some personal attention from his dad, who responded to the scene to take custody of his car and child.
Monday, June 25
4:35 a.m. A man called police from C Street saying that his car stereo equipment had been repossessed by the car’s previous owner in a dispute over outstanding payments on the car. A witness to the taking said that a handgun was pulled during the event. The incident dwindled in severity as police investigated: The stereo equipment was recovered from where it had been left in front of the caller’s house, and the witness reported no one actually displayed any guns. The matter was likely uncivil but not illegal, and no further police action was taken.
Tuesday, June 26
3:57 p.m. Blaine police received information that a specific vehicle was being driven in the Blaine area by a teenager who did not have a driver’s license. A short time later an officer spotted that car being driven on Peace Portal by a young girl, and stopped it. The 16-year-old girl confirmed she had neither a license nor insurance, and that her mom lets her drive knowing that. Mom was cited for permitting the illegal operation which her daughter received several tickets for committing, and a report for review of other charges was forwarded to the prosecutor.
By Zoe Fraley
A man was injured after crashing his motorcycle in the 4200 block of Meridian Street Monday afternoon, June 25, according to reports heard over the police scanner.
The man crashed near the Kellogg Street intersection at about 1:40 p.m. Reports said he had injuries to his shoulders and ankles but was conscious after the crash.
It’s unclear what caused the crash. Traffic may be slow in the area as medics respond.
By Caleb Hutton
Update at 7:48 p.m. Mark Ortiz was booked into jail a few minutes ago on charges of felony harassment (usually meaning death threats), fourth-degree assault and resisting arrest.
BELLINGHAM – A police standoff that has blocked traffic for hours on Northwest Avenue was sparked by a domestic violence assault Saturday afternoon, June 23.
Mark A. Ortiz assaulted a relative about 3 p.m. at his home in the 4200 block of Northwest Avenue, said Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo.
Then he barricaded himself inside the home.
As of 6:40 p.m., the time of this post, the standoff is ongoing. Deputies are using “extreme caution,” Elfo said, because it’s believed Ortiz may have a handgun.
SWAT team members are now plotting their next move, Elfo said. They’ve set up a perimeter and are detouring traffic.
Here’s a link to a wanted poster put out by Bellingham Police in May 2011, when Ortiz was arrested on investigation of assault, harassment and unlawful imprisonment charges. He has an extensive criminal history.
By Caleb Hutton
It seemed like a lot more vehicle prowls than usual were reported this week on the Bellingham police log.
So to better understand any trends, I decided to visualize vehicle break-ins from June 16 to 22, with help from Google Maps.
Here are the takeways:
- Don’t leave your car unlocked.
- Right now, that’s really good advice if you park near the Lake Padden trails.
- Or if you live in the numbered streets east of Interstate 5.
- Not a single vehicle prowl was reported in Fairhaven this week.
View Bellingham vehicle prowls and thefts from June 16 to 22 in a larger map
And a few more things to keep in mind:
- Each point represents a single case. A case might include two break-ins. If two cases were filed in the same 100 block, I changed the last two digits of the address to “01″ or “02,” for the sake of seeing it better on the map.
- This only maps to the nearest 100 block (for example, 1155 N. State St. would come up as the 1100 block of North State Street).
- By my hand count, that’s about 40 vehicle prowls, a couple of vehicle thefts and one vehicle arson. Only one arrest.
- These are only reported crimes. Many more may have gone unreported.