April 29, 2017

Archives for February 2014

Sheriff’s Office looking for owner of stolen firearms

The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office is requesting the public’s assistance in locating the owner of a gun collection that is believed to be stolen.

Detectives would like to determine who the owner (or owners) may be of nearly fifty stolen rifles recently recovered from a residence on Old Marine Drive, Bellingham WA. The rifles appear to be a collection, with most manufactured between the late 1800s and during the World War II era. Countries of origin include France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Egypt, and the United States.

On February 19, 2014, at about 9:30 PM, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office responded to a reported Domestic Violence call in the 1100 block of Old Marine Drive, Bellingham, Washington. During the course of that investigation, deputies discovered a large “job box” normally used for storing tools, filled with firearms. Information gathered at the scene led deputies to believe that the firearms were stolen. Deputies took the firearms and they are being held for safe keeping pending further investigation.

Additional information developed during the investigation suggests the guns were stolen from “the valley” (this may be Sudden Valley) sometime within the last few months, though none of the guns appear to have been reported stolen, and there are no local law enforcement cases involving similar guns. Anyone with information is requested to contact the Sheriff’s Office Detectives at 360-676-6650, reference case number 14A03306.

Information may also be left on our confidential tip line at:
(360) 715-7459 or toll free 1-866-456-2157

Another Serial Burglar Investigated and Arrested

A prolific burglar, thief and previously convicted felon was arrested by Sheriff’s Deputies for a series of burglaries and thefts that occurred in unincorporated Whatcom County and the City of Ferndale. Deputies did not need to look too far for the suspect as he was already incarcerated in the Whatcom County Jail on burglary and theft charges in relation to crimes that occurred last December.

The Sheriff’s Office received a series of reports of burglaries and thefts that occurred in the areas of Ferndale and Lynden. Sheriff’s deputies arrested Kevin Gorsuch (date of birth 5-23-86) who most recently was living in the 6800 block of Enterprise Road (Ferndale) for a burglary that had occurred in December 2013 at Veenhuizen Farms in the 1600 block of East Pole Road (Lynden) and for a theft that occurred in December 2013 in the 2100 block of Harskell Road (Ferndale). Deputies continued their investigation and linked Gorsuch to other crimes that occurred in the north county during between late 2013 and early 2014.

Multiple interviews were conducted and evidence collected that lead to the development of probable cause for the arrest of Gorsuch for additional crimes that occurred both in unincorporated Whatcom County and the City of Ferndale. Deputies arrested Gorsuch in the County Jail. It is suspected that Gorsuch may have been involved in other area burglaries and thefts and the investigation is continuing.

Gorsuch was arrested on February 20th for the following burglaries and thefts:

Burglary 2nd in the 6800 block of Enterprise Road. Kevin Gorsuch admitted he made entry into an unlocked shop and took welding leads.

Burglary 2nd in the 6900 block of Salashan Parkway. Kevin Gorsuch admitted to opening a window to the business but said he left without taking anything.

Burglary 1st, Theft of a Firearm – 3 counts, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm – 3 counts, Trafficking Stolen Property- 3 counts in the 5400 block of Aldrich Road, a residence and barn. Kevin Gorsuch denied taking the firearms, but admitted to being in possession of 2 of them and to trafficking them. An accomplice reported dropping Kevin Gorsuch off in this location and later picking him up when he had 3 or 4 firearms. All 3 firearms that were reported stolen have been recovered.

Vehicle Prowl in the 5500 block of Hovander Road. A utility trailer parked behind a building under construction was prowled and rolls of wire were stolen.

Burglary 2nd in the 7400 block of Enterprise Road. Kevin Gorsuch admitted to stealing Stihl chainsaw from a shed located near the residence.

Theft 3rd, Malicious Mischief 3rd in the 7400 block of Enterprise Road. Kevin Gorsuch admitted to cutting an electrical cord from a residence and later stripping it for the copper.

Burglary 2nd (Ferndale PD case) in the 5000 block of Pacific Hwy. A business was burglarized and power tools were stolen. Gorsuch was identified by a witness.

Gorsuch was previously arrested by the Whatcom Sheriff’s Office on March 29, 2013 on a felony theft charge and was convicted of the same on April 25, 2013. He was sentenced by the Superior Court on these previous offenses to six months in Jail.

Local Elected Officials Attend Emergency Management Training

Disasters like Hurricane Katrina have shown us what happens to local communities when their local officials are not up to the task of governance during extreme events. Here in Whatcom County numerous newly elected officials are participating today in training that will ensure that they have the skills needed to assist their jurisdictions during a disaster.

Whatcom Unified Emergency Management is instructing an Emergency Operations for Elected Officials/ Chief Administrators today at 2-4PM, and another class from 6-8PM, in Bellingham. This two hour session helps to orient current and newly appointed/ elected civic officials to their role during emergency incidents. The elected officials who have committed to participate in the training will leave the course with the basic skills needed to lead and effectively assist their constituents in times of disaster.

Officials from Whatcom County, Port of Bellingham, City of Bellingham, City of Ferndale, Cemetery District 7, Columbia Valley Water District, Lynden School District, Columbia Valley Water District, City of Lynden, and the South Whatcom Fire Authority will be participating.

Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office assists with locating missing Alzheimer’s Patient

Missing elderly man safely located with aid of technology
Posted: February 13, 2014 1:51:26 PM PST

Bellingham (WA) On February 7, 2014 at about 4:20 p.m. the Bellingham Police responded to a report of a missing 71 year old male from Columbia Place Retirement Center. The male subject walked away from the facility against the wishes of facility staff who stated he was not capable of caring for himself.
This elderly man was wearing a “Project Lifesaver” radio tracking device, which is a specially equipped bracelet. Project Lifesaver was introduced in Whatcom County in 2008 as a partnership between the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) and the Alzheimer’s Society of Washington.
The missing man was located at about 8:30 p.m. because of the Project Lifesaver equipment. A deputy with a receiving unit traced the signal to the area of Champion and Holly Streets. The man was physically okay but disoriented. Considering that the low temperature on this day was nearly 20 degrees it was critical that this man be located a quickly as possible.

According to WCSO Sergeant Scott Huso, Search and Rescue Deputies along with several trained Search and Rescue Volunteers maintain several receivers which track the transmitter signal and aid in the search. On a national scale, searches that used to last hours have been reduced to an average of about 20 minutes for those that are wearing the transmitter.

Utilizing WCSO Search and Rescue experts for urban searches is an excellent example of the collaborative nature of local law enforcement. Through sharing resources all of our local agencies are able to provide excellent service to our citizens while being fiscally responsible. It would not be cost effective for every local agency to maintain a search and rescue element. Another example of this is the Bellingham Police Hazardous Devices Unit (bomb squad), which is staffed and maintained by BPD but made available to all jurisdictions in Whatcom County.

Caregivers and family members are able to enroll clients in the Project Lifesaver program through the Alzheimer’s Society for a nominal fee. If there are additional questions on how to enroll a potential client into Project Lifesaver please contact the Alzheimer Society of Washington at (360) 671-3316.
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Whatcom County puts 60-day moratorium on pot business applications

BELLINGHAM — The Whatcom County Council passed an emergency ordinance Tuesday night that places an immediate moratorium on any new applications for marijuana producers, processors and retailers under the state’s pot legalization Initiative 502 and also for medical marijuana facilities.

potrules2The moratorium, passed unanimously by the County Council, will stay in effect for 60 days — and could be extended — to allow time for the county executive’s staff, the sheriff’s office and the prosecutor’s office to produce an interim ordinance for council review and approval, County Executive Jack Louws said.

The moratorium was needed, Louws said, for the following reasons outlined in the ordinance:

“Marijuana related operations are vulnerable to robbery and crimes of violence, as evidenced by the actual robberies and violence that have occurred at state legal marijuana medical sites within Whatcom County and elsewhere. The current requirements for locating a proposed marijuana facility do not specifically address the potential risks that these operations pose for surrounding residences, including those residences within isolated communities with limited police protection.

“It is necessary to have this moratorium take effect immediately in order to prevent future applications for marijuana producers, processors, retailers, and collective gardens from vesting under current laws and thus subverting the purpose of additional regulations to protect the public,” it said.

Louws said Whatcom County began receiving notifications of proposed marijuana facilities from the Washington State Liquor Control Board in mid-December and has been informed that licenses are to be issued as early as late this month or early March.

Read more: http://q13fox.com/2014/02/11/whatcom-county-puts-60-day-moratorium-on-pot-business-applications/#ixzz2t8DsEObs

Serial Burglar Captured in Geneva Neighborhood

On Friday, February 7th at approximately 12:14 p.m. a resident in the 1500 block of Lakewood Lane (Geneva area) reported that a male suspect had pounded on her door and then attempted to open the doors and windows to her home. The resident was able to provide law enforcement with a good description of the suspect, his vehicle and direction of travel as he left the area.

Subsequently, the Sheriff’s Office received multiple reports of other residential burglaries that had occurred in the area including three additional residences on Lakewood Lane and the 1500 block of Geneva Street (total of four burglaries and one attempted burglary). One of the residents on Lakewood Lane whose home was burglarized came home to find the front door ajar and the suspect in her home. The suspect fled her home and she was able to provide a description similar to that provided by the other neighbor.

Items stolen during the course of burglaries included jewelry, computer equipment, United States and Canadian currency, prescription drugs, checks, and a credit card. Deputies located the vehicle that had fled the burglaries in the 4300 block of Columbus Street. Some tems believed to have been stolen in the burglary were located in the vehicle and in the residence following the execution of a search warrant.

A United States Department of Homeland Security Helicopter and Canine teams from the Sheriff’s Office assisted by canine teams from the Bellingham and Everett Police Departments initiated a search for the suspect. A Bellingham Police Canine team located Michael Johnsen hiding in a wooded area near the intersection of Parkstone and Overlook Drives. Deputies were able to match patterns on Johnsen’s foot ware with foot impressions left in the snow at the scene of the burglaries. Johnsen also closely matched the description provided by witnesses and was positively identified.

The suspect, Michael Johnsen dob 9/6/1978, was arrested and booked into the Whatcom County Jail on the following charges:
1) Attempted Residential Burglary (one count)
2) Residential Burglary (four counts)
3) Theft in the 2nd degree (two counts).
Johnsen is being referred to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for consideration of filing additional theft charges. Deputies will also be investigating to determine what other crimes Johnsen may have been committed in Whatcom County.

Deputies discovered that Johnsen was also wanted by the Washington State Department of Corrections for Escape. Johnsen was also arrested on the Department of Corrections warrant.

Sheriff Elfo said: “Alert citizens were instrumental in assisting law enforcement in solving Mr. Johnsen’s latest string of burglaries. Johnsen is a career criminal and a prolific burglar with a long and repeated history of victimizing the citizens of Whatcom County. He was previously arrested by the Sheriff’s Office for a string of burglaries in the central area of the County in 2008 and was subsequently sentenced to 7 years in prison. Prison officials released him July of 2103 to an out-of-custody program and he did not serve his entire sentence. Prior to Friday’s crimes, Mr. Johnsen had accumulated at total of 11 adult felony convictions for crimes including burglary, theft, escape, possession of stolen property as well as 12 adult gross misdemeanor convictions for vehicle prowling, reckless endangerment, possession of stolen property and drug related offenses and a series of other offenses including bail jumping. We are very pleased that he is off the streets.”