Tag: whatcom county sheriff’s office
By Caleb Hutton
This video popped up on the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page Friday evening, July 27, with the note, “WCSO on patrol?”
At first staff at the sheriff’s office posted they weren’t sure who created the video (or the patrol car “skin”), but an informant had told them it was on YouTube.
In a later reply to the posting, Carmine Clemente took responsibility for the video.
By Caleb Hutton
For background, see this post written Thursday.
One victim of a car theft and arson sent in these shots of her son’s Volkswagen Golf, before and after it was stolen.
It was burned by a group of meth users outside a warehouse on Mercer Avenue early Tuesday, July 10, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.
These photos are courtesy of Heidi Vandivere-Croker, of Custer. The first was taken on Zeb Croker’s prom night in May. The second image was taken this week at Johnson’s Towing.
Zeb Croker, 18, parked and locked the car — “it was definitely locked,” his mom said — about 8:30 p.m. June 26, outside the warehouse. He walked to a bonfire on Locust Beach to hang out with a few friends. When he came back after midnight the car was gone. More than $750 in lacrosse equipment was inside.
From Thursday’s post:
Deputies responded to a report of a suspicious car fire at 5:16 a.m. Tuesday. They found Bradley Allen Ferris Jr., 32, of Sedro-Woolley, was squatting in a warehouse in the 3100 block of Mercer Avenue with a group of meth users, said Whatcom County Undersheriff Jeff Parks.
Inside the warehouse, it appeared someone had used a forklift to lift the Golf and picked out valuable pieces for resale, Parks said. The value of the car was about $3,500; the removed parts were worth about $1,000. Someone had taken the rest of the car and set it aflame outside.
Heidi Vandivere-Croker said the lacrosse gear was either hocked or burned — either way, it wasn’t recovered. Her son, an avid lacrosse player, had paid for most of the equipment himself.
He’d also just put a new transmission in the car.
And they had to pay more than $650 to get the charred remains out of impound.
A few things taken from the car were recovered by deputies: headlights, taillights, a stereo, wheels, etc. But most of those don’t fit in the replacement car Zeb’s driving around now.
“It’s good, but he doesn’t have a car to put them in,” his mom said. “He’s a good kid and just had the misfortune of parking his car in the wrong spot.”
She wanted to put a face to the victim in this case. So here’s a photo of Zeb with his lacrosse team. He’s No. 20.
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
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
Prosecutors have filed charges following an assault on Whatcom County Assessor Keith Willnauer.
(Here’s the article I wrote last week about the assault.)
Willnauer was attacked on the morning of June 1 at his office in the county courthouse. Lincoln Lewis Rutter, 55, a Semiahmoo resident, had demanded information about the status of his neighbors’ property taxes.
When Willnauer said it might take time to gather those documents, Rutter grabbed the assessor by the necktie with both hands, slammed his face on the counter and shook him from side to side, according to the charges.
From the document:
On this occasion (Rutter) was confronting Willnauer over his decision, as the Assessor, to allow some land to remain in a tax exempt status. (Rutter) disagreed with this and said that Willnauer was wrong. Willnauer explained that certain portions of the parceled land involved had been changed from a tax exempt to a non-exempt status. The defendant demanded proof of that immediately. Willnauer said this would take some time. The defendant at this point became enraged and reached across the counter grabbing Willnauer’s necktie as described above. The defendant continued to yell threats at Willnauer which was variously reported by witnesses as “do you think you can do this to me, I’ll show you”; “there’ll be ramifications, you can’t do this to me”; “if you don’t give it to me, there will be ramifications.”
Rutter pulled Willnauer’s necktie hard enough tear his shirt collar and pull the assessor off of his feet, according to the charges. Willnauer was choked, and also suffered a bruise to his chin.
Rutter is 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds. As Willnauer later told the Herald, “Mr. Rutter is a large individual. And I’m not.”
Prosecutors alleged Rutter had, in the past, “used his height and weight to lean into and bully employees in the office,” and had been known to slam his hands on counter tops. Because of those exchanges, Willnauer chose to personally “handle” Rutter when he came into the office, the charges say.
Many people witnessed the assault, including Willnauer’s fellow employees. Afterward, Rutter was told to sit in a chair outside the office and to wait until sheriff’s deputies to arrive. He obeyed that request.
Charges were filed Friday, June 8.
Rutter is accused of fourth-degree assault and intimidating a public servant, a Class B felony. He spent two days in jail before posting $10,000 bond.