Archive for December, 2012
By Caleb Hutton
It was busy weekend for the cops in Bellingham. Here are a few newsworthy things that won’t be in the print edition of the paper.
First, the death investigation of a 25-year-old Ferndale man.
Dylan James Boatman was found unresponsive at 1:55 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, in a parking lot in the 1100 block of Railroad Avenue. He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police.
A Monday morning autopsy found no inflicted trauma on his body, said Whatcom County Medical Examiner Gary Goldfogel. The death is still under investigation, pending the results of toxicology tests.
Second, a domestic violence assault led to a brief police standoff at 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 16. Here’s a verbatim summary of the police report, as transcribed by Bellingham police spokesman Mark Young.
A 23 year old female victim called 911 from a friend’s home stating her husband of several years had physically assaulted her by punching her while they were both in their car driving in Bellingham. The victim was able to get out of the vehicle and when chased by the suspect, she was able to get back into the vehicle to drive off leaving him behind. The victim drove to a friend’s home to call 911.The suspect was located at the couple’s home in the 1300 block of Ellis Street. Officers could see that the alleged suspect was home but he refused to come to the door. A search warrant was served on the residence and a K-9 was deployed when the suspect continued to refuse lawful commands.The suspect, 43 year old Kenneth Eagle, was taken into custody, transported to hospital for treatment then booked into Whatcom County Jail for Assault 4th DV [domestic violence].The victim in the assault refused medical treatment. Alcohol is believed to be factor.
And third, here are a few details we didn’t have in this story about a stabbing on East Sunset Drive.
Police said Christopher R. Morissette attacked a 2001 Hyundai car that was stopped for traffic. Several gouges from a 3- to 4-inch serrated blade caused about $900 in damage. Nobody was hurt in the bizarre and apparently random attack on the car. Young noted the suspect was “acting drugged out.”
By Caleb Hutton
In advance of this article about a 18-year-old Girl Scout co-leader who was charged with molesting a girl, the Girl Scouts of Western Washington released the following prepared statement.
The safety of the girls we serve is our paramount concern. Girl Scouts of Western Washington is a volunteer-based organization and has procedures and policies in place to do everything we can to safeguard the well-being of our girls. These processes were followed in this situation.
Our overarching concern is for the girl involved. Girl Scouts of Western Washington is committed to cooperating fully with the proper authorities. We do understand that Andre Acosta-Ruiz has been charged. We do not comment on active investigations, and cannot provide further details at this time.
After reading through the charges, I also had two big questions:
- If it’s typical for teenage boys to serve as co-leaders at Girl Scouts camps.
- Where a “co-leader” lands in the hierarchy of Girl Scouts leadership.
Here’s the response from Kate Dabe, vice president of marketing and communications for the regional Girl Scouts.
Girl Scouts welcomes both women and men into volunteer positions. The encamporee leadership team structure varies depending on a number of factors, but includes a trained encamporee director and others in required positions such as first aid, assistant leadership positions, and so forth. Andre Acosta-Ruiz was not on the encamporee leadership team.
By Caleb Hutton
BELLINGHAM — A man accused of leading police on a high-speed chase through Skagit and Whatcom counties had his bail set at $10 million this week.
After a roughly 29-mile chase Tuesday, Dec. 11, police deployed spike strips to stop a Lincoln Contintental driven by Adrian G. Sassen Van Elsloo, 30. He was taken into custody hours later, following an armed standoff.
Disclaimer: The route below is very approximate.
By my count — after digging through some court records — this was at least the fourth time he’s publicly been named as a suspect in an eluding case.
Sassen Van Elsloo had been on the run from the law since September, when he allegedly led police on another chase through the streets of Bellingham.
He’s now being charged in three separate Whatcom County cases.
- The first two are outlined in this article. That story doesn’t mention what police found in the car: a pistol-grip shotgun, a .38-caliber revolver, a Raven Arms .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol and lots of drugs. That info later became public in charging documents.
- The third case is the most recent car chase.
So if you look up Sassen Van Elsloo on the jail roster or the state court system you’ll see Commissioner David M. Thorn effectively split the $10 million bail into thirds — $3.33 million for each case. (Just wanted to explain that discrepancy.)
Here’s a file photo of the defendant.
By Caleb Hutton
A warrant sweep of gang members and wanted criminals ended with 24 arrests in a matter of hours Wednesday, Dec. 12.
Here’s a full list of the arrests made during “Operation Chimney Sweep,” via the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office,
And here’s the full press release:
On December 12th, 2012 the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office led a multi-agency warrant emphasis that targeted gang members, their associates and other high risk offenders living within Whatcom County. All 62 offenders and suspects identified and targeted had outstanding active arrest warrants or probable cause issued for their arrest. A total of 56 Federal, State and local law enforcement officers, from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, Bellingham PD, Ferndale PD, Everson PD, Lynden PD, Sumas PD, Washington Department of Corrections, FBI, DEA, US Marshalls Service and Homeland Security Investigations participated in the 10-hour operation, which took place from 0900-1900 hours.
During this operation, teams of deputies, agents and officers deployed throughout the County. Arrests took place within the city limits of Bellingham, Blaine and unincorporated Whatcom County. A total of 23 adults and one juvenile were arrested with 39 warrants and PC’s being served. The most serious charges were for Kidnapping, Escape and Delivery of Methamphetamine. A variety of gang members and associates were arrested, including affiliates of the Bloods, Crips, Brown Pride Surenos, Tiny Rascals and Insane Clown Posse.
The most significant arrest of the day was that of James Michael Craver who was wanted on Probable Cause from Bellingham PD and Everson PD for Kidnapping 1st, Robbery 1st, Assault 2nd Domestic Violence and Burglary 2nd. He was also wanted for a Felony Department of Corrections warrant. Craver had been responsible for a multi-day crime spree and was considered a high risk offender.
This operation was the fourth in a series of warrant sweeps that targeted serious offenders and known gang members. The cooperative program was launched in October of 2011 and combined with the three operations in 2012, (April, August and December) have resulted in a total of 64 persons being arrested on a variety of criminal charges and warrants, and over 100 warrants served. Local, State and Federal law enforcement agencies have partnered in Whatcom County in response to increased gang incidents and activity and to also focus on repeat dangerous offenders known to be active here. This cooperative effort sends a message, supported by the community, that criminal organizations, drug dealers and other violent criminals will not be tolerated in our towns and neighborhoods.
Sheriff Elfo has stated: “This is another example of the tireless efforts of our deputies and our State, Local and Federal partners to rid Whatcom County of criminal gang activity hold offenders accountable and maintain community safety.”
By Caleb Hutton
In the past couple weeks, two people trying to cross into British Columbia via Whatcom County (and surrounding waters) were denied entry because they allegedly had child porn on their computers.
Here’s the press release from the Canada Border Services Agency:
Vancouver, British Columbia, December 12, 2012 — The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) announced this week that during regular inspections of foreign nationals, officers seized three laptop computers and other electronic devices containing photographic images of suspected child pornography.
On December 2, during the examination of a marine vessel in Surrey, border services officers (BSOs) discovered a laptop computer concealed behind a case of bottled water in the store room. Officers questioned the crew members to identify the owner of the laptop, and then conducted a search of the computer, where they found numerous child exploitation images. Upon discovering the images, officers arrested the crew member and turned him over to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), along with the laptop computer. The crew member remains in custody.
On December 5, during the examination of a foreign national entry at the Vancouver International Airport, BSOs discovered suspected child exploitation images on the traveller’s laptop. The laptop was seized, as well as multiple USB flash drives, a portable hard drive and two cell phones. The traveller was arrested, refused entry, and left Canada.
Also on December 5, a U.S. resident arrived at the Pacific Highway border crossing onboard a bus. The individual was referred for a secondary examination by BSOs. During the examination of his luggage, BSOs found suspected child exploitation images on his laptop. The traveller was arrested and his electronic media and devices were seized as evidence. The subject and the seized evidence were turned over to the RCMP. The individual was later released from custody on conditions and is scheduled to appear in court in January 2013.
“These cases show that those who prey on children operate globally, without regard to borders,” said Kim Scoville, the CBSA’s Executive Director in the Pacific Region. “Border services officers play an important role in fighting this worldwide problem, and will continue to work closely with our national and international partners to protect children from exploitation.”
BSOs in the Pacific Region have made 26 seizures of goods containing child exploitation images so far this year.
For information about prohibited importations, visit the CBSA Web site.
By Caleb Hutton
A few months ago, after Bellingham Police Chief Todd Ramsey announced he would retire this year, Mayor Kelli Linville said we could expect his permanent replacement to be named by December.
Well, here we are, it’s December.
The city has winnowed the applicants down to six finalists who are meeting with the police department late Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 12, at the station. Two candidates are in-house; the others come from around the state and country.
Below is the list, straight from the desk of the city’s Human Resources director, Lorna Klemanski.
I added the links. They go to some background info about each candidate. It’s all cursory stuff gathered from Google searches, so take it with a grain of salt. Once the actual chief is named, we’ll go deeper into that person’s background.
David Doll, who currently serves as deputy police chief for the Bellingham Police Department. In this role, he is the deputy director of the Whatcom County Office of Emergency Management and the director of the What-Comm Communications Center. [Former Mayor Dan Pike named Doll and Ramsay as his two in-house front-runners the last time the city was searching for a police chief, back in 2007.]
James Lever, who currently serves as an assistant chief of the Washington State Patrol’s Technical Services Bureau.
Gene Markle, who most recently served as a captain with the Kirkland Police Department. A Kirkland Reporter article says he retired in 2011.
Flo Simon, who currently serves as Deputy Chief of the Bellingham Police Department. In this role she directs police department operations. [Simon served as a Bellingham police spokeswoman for several years.]
All six candidates are in town from Wednesday through Friday for interviews. They’ll also perform “exercises to assess their skills and readiness to lead the Bellingham Police Department and serve as a key member of the city’s management team,” Klemanski wrote.
Expect a pick to be made in the next week or two.
Edited at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday: Took out an irrelevant quote.
By Caleb Hutton
Full story coming.
James M. Craver, 28, was arrested just before noon Wednesday, Dec. 12.
He was wanted on suspicion of breaking into a home in Everson, assaulting his former girlfriend with a knife, prowling cars in Bellingham and threatening to shoot a woman driver — picked at random — if she didn’t help him elude police.
He was arrested by a team of Bellingham police and Whatcom County Sheriff’s deputies, said Everson Police Chief Erik Ramstead.
I’m awaiting details about his arrest.
By Caleb Hutton
BELLINGHAM — A carjacker remains at-large after he told a woman he had a gun, forced her to drive him from the scene of another crime and — after two hours of eluding police — ordered her to drop him off on Fraser Street, according to police.
The 24-year-old woman was not harmed in the kidnapping Tuesday evening, Dec. 11.
Police believe the suspect is James M. Craver, 28. He was last seen just after 7 p.m. in the 1900 block of Fraser. Bellingham police spokesman Mark Young said he may be armed and dangerous.
We’ll have an article today, but in the meantime here’s the narrative from Young.
The Bellingham Police Department is asking for your help in locating a suspect in connection with a kidnapping which occurred on Tuesday evening at about 5:00 p.m. Officers were called to the area of West Bakerview Road and Eliza at about 4:50 p.m on the report that a victim of an attempted vehicle prowl was chasing a suspect. It was reported that the suspect was armed with a box cutter. While officers were in route, several more calls were received by Whatcom Dispatch Center of a suspect in that same area attempting to get into at least two occupied vehicles and that the suspect was able to get into one vehicle forcing the occupant to drive away.
One of the witnesses was able to provide a license plate of the victim’s vehicle to officers. A Bellingham Police Sergeant was able to contact the registered owner of the vehicle living in Skagit County. The registered owner was able to provide the Sergeant with the cell phone number of the driver. The Sergeant called that number which was answered by the suspect. The Sergeant did not identify himself but asked to speak with the driver as if he knew her. The victim was able to speak with the Sergeant briefly but was not able to give her location before the suspect pulled the phone away and disabled it.
A broadcast of the vehicle description was provided to all law enforcement agencies in the area and as other notifications were being made, the Sergeant received a call on his cell phone from the victim’s phone. Thankfully, the victim was able to report that she was in the 1600 block of Iowa Street alone and unharmed.
Officer contacted the victim, a 28 year old Skagit County woman and learned that when the suspect got into her car initially, he told her that he had a gun and demanded that she drive. The suspect got out of the car in the 1900 block of Frasier Street at around 7:00 p.m. and remains at large at this time.
The suspect is 28 year old James M. Craver. Craver is described as a white male, 5” 7” and weighs about 200 pounds. He was last seen wearing a blue grey hooded sweatshirt. Craver has a neck tattoo on the right side of his neck “Teresa”. Craver has short brown hair. Craver is possibly armed and should be considered dangerous. Anyone with information concerning Craver’s location is asked to please call 911 immediately.
A 2010 court case lists Craver’s most recent address in the 3600 block of Lakeway Drive. He was also named as a suspect in a felony assault in Everson from earlier on Tuesday. Police aren’t sure how he made his way from Everson to Bellingham.
By Caleb Hutton
Update: See bottom of this post.
A police pursuit that wound through Skagit and Whatcom counties was yet to be resolved as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, after the suspect’s Lincoln Continental hit spike strips on Nulle Road near Interstate 5, according to initial reports.
Adrian Sassen Van Elsloo, who’s wanted for warrants, was barricading himself in the navy blue Lincoln, said Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo. He was apparently armed with a gun.
Sassen Van Elsloo has a long history of leading police on chases. Here’s the most recent article we wrote about him.
This time, he allegedly fled Skagit deputies when they tried to pull him over late this afternoon. By 4:15 p.m., the navy blue Lincoln Continental was near Arroya Park, where dispatchers reported he tried to ram several cars.
The chase wound along Old Fairhaven Parkway, Old Samish Road, East Lake Samish Drive and, ultimately, Nulle Road, where the Lincoln reportedly hit spike strips and came to a halt.
Elfo said the suspect then barricaded himself in the car. At the time of this post, that was the last confirmed update. Elfo — who’s understandably very busy right now — didn’t pick up his cell phone when I called again looking for an update.
See our Twitter account, @bhamcrime, for the narrative as it came over the radio.
Update at 5:30 p.m. Elfo says the scene is still “hot.” The suspect is waving around a handgun, but to the best of the sheriff’s knowledge, has not made any verbal threats to harm himself or deputies.
It goes without saying people should avoid the area. Elfo said the scene is very well-contained, so he doesn’t believe there’s any immediate danger to the public.
By Caleb Hutton
Text courtesy of the Blaine Police Department, with minor edits for style.
Tuesday, Dec. 4
3:50 p.m. Police were dispatched to the 1500 block of D Street on a report that four people were using drugs in a car by an apartment complex. An officer arrived and found three young men in the suspect vehicle. It appeared they had indeed been smoking a hallucinogen, but there was not enough of the product left for testing. The trio’s used paraphernalia was destroyed.
7 p.m. During an argument at a home on Golden Eagle Drive, a man decided to demonstrate his state of mind by swallowing fistfuls of prescription medication in front of his wife. He lost consciousness shortly afterwards, and dispatch was giving the woman telephonic instructions on how to perform CPR when police officers and medics arrived at the house. The man was revived and transported to hospital for evaluation and treatment.
Friday, Dec. 5
12:23 a.m. An intoxicated man and his more intoxicated brother left a bar downtown after midnight, and staggered back towards their boat in Blaine Harbor. They made it as far as Peace Portal and Marine Drive before the more inebriated man attacked and began beating on his sibling. He may have started the fight, but he was unanimously declared the loser by the police officers and medics who arrived to clean up the mess. The bleeding, violent 21-year-old man from Neah Bay was transported to hospital by medics, accompanied by a police officer who helped restrain him to his gurney to keep him from destroying the ambulance. He faces prosecution for fourth-degree assault and other violations.
3:25 p.m. School officials called police when they learned that a student who was not on campus had posted comments on a social networking site indicating that he might harm himself. Officers located and interviewed the young man. He was physically fine, and explained the purpose of his admittedly inappropriate internet activity. The young man received a warning and the school and his parent received a phone call from the officers explaining the results of their investigation.
Friday, Dec. 7
3 a.m. An officer on patrol about 3 a.m. spotted a person walking away from the railroad tracks near Clyde Street. The walker lacked a hard hat, safety glasses or any other pieces of safety gear that railway employee generally carry. U.S. Border Patrol agents arrived to interview the man and found that he had possibly illegally entered the country via the railroad tracks, and he
was taken into custody by the agents.
9:10 p.m. U.S. Border Patrol Dispatch reported a person at Peace Arch Park was jumping the border from the United States into Canada. A Blaine officer was called but arrived too late to intervene in the subject’s hasty departure from the country. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police advised later that they had caught up with the man, and found that he was a Canadian citizen. He had set out from home in Canada but had gotten disoriented and bolted for home when he realized he strayed across the border.
9:40 p.m. A Blaine officer assisted Border Patrol Agent contacting three suspicious people walking south from the Canadian border along the truck route north of H Street. The trio turned out to be US citizens who had wanted to go to Canada, but they were too intoxicated so border officials denied them entry.
Saturday, Dec. 8
7:30 a.m. Royal Canadian Mounted Police in White Rock called Blaine Police when they heard what sounded like gunfire to the south of their fair city. An officer checked the area where most shootings occur, but did not locate the suspects. The RCMP were advised that it is duck hunting season here and the hunters often float offshore just outside the city limits west of Semiahmoo Spit.
Sunday, Dec. 9
1:34 a.m. An officer saw what appeared to be an unoccupied parked vehicle at a gas pump downtown. As he approached the car the driver who had been slumped down in his seat sat up and started to honk the car’s horn. That’s a classic, if melodramatic, way for a lookout to alert his accomplice that the police have arrived, but if something was afoot nearby it fled before doing the deed. The driver claimed the horn honking was accidentally and he was waiting to meet a friend who was detained at the border. Car and driver left the area a short time later.
Monday, Dec. 10
12:20 a.m. A parent on Cedar Street called police shortly after midnight when she spotted a possible runaway teenager in her back yard. Officers arrived, searched the area and found the girl hiding in another yard nearby. The 17-year-old girl was indeed a runaway, and also was wanted on a felony warrant in Snohomish County. She was arrested and booked into detention.