October 9, 2015

Sheriff’s Office Issues Awards to Employees and Citizens for Significant Actions and Contributions

NEWS RELEASE 05/15/2015 3:40:32 PM
(360) 676-6650 (360) 384-5360 Recorded Press Line (360) 676-6707 ext. 56397
Bill Elfo, Sheriff

The month of May marks National Police Week and National Corrections Officer and Employees’ Week.

On May 8th, Deputy James Chatfield was honored at the Washington State Police Memorial in Olympia. Deputy Chatfield died on July 29, 1921 after being shot by suspected smugglers near Blaine. His death had been lost to the institutional memory of the Sheriff’s Office and was only discovered in 2013 through the work of a historian. Deputy Chatfield’s two great-grandsons attended the ceremony. Deputy Chatfield joins Deputy Matt Herzog, who was killed in the line of duty on September 13, 2001, in being recognized on the memorial.


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Washington State and National Memorials

The Sheriff’s Office held its Awards Recognition Ceremony on May 12th and also honored Sergeant Larry Flynn who will retire at the end of the month with 35 years of service. Sheriff Elfo also presented a proclamation to honor Police and Corrections Weeks to the County Council on May 12th.

Sheriff’s Office Awards Issued:

Unit Citation
The Sheriff’s Unit Citation is awarded by the Sheriff to an entire unit whose members perform their assigned duties in an unusually effective manner.

The Sheriff’s Office Crisis Response Unit is especially trained to defuse volatile situations involving those in mental health crisis. Members of the Team are recruited from both the Bureau of Law Enforcement and the Bureau of Corrections. During 2014, the Team successfully resolved several situations including persuading a suicidal man not to jump from an I-5 overpass on to the Freeway; persuading a suicidal and possibly homicidal man who had called 9-1-1 to request that a deputy to respond so he could kill the deputy or the deputy could kill him- in this case, the suspect had armed himself with a hammer and a large knife and was standing in the middle of the roadway; and persuaded a mother to surrender after she had barricaded herself in a home with her son who attempted to kill deputies.

Crisis Response Team Members:
Sergeant Beth Larson
Sergeant Kevin Mede
Deputy Chris Freeman
Deputy Pete Stevenson
Deputy Lonnie Baumann
Deputy Steve Roff
Deputy Randy Winter
Deputy Julie Baker

Sheriff’s Lifesaving Award
The Lifesaving Award is awarded by the Sheriff to members who personally save a life.

Deputy Joe Anders

Deputy Joe Anders was monitoring Fire Dispatch during April 2013, and heard medics call being dispatched to Kelly Road. The only information available was that a woman called 911 hysterically crying, that her husband had collapsed, and she was doing CPR on him. Deputy Anders was not dispatched to the call but decided to respond. Deputy Anders arrived to find the wife improperly attempting CPR. Deputy Anders took over and properly administered CPR until medics arrived. The man, Francisco Rodriguez, was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital. Deputy Anders drove Jessica Rodriguez to the hospital to be by her husband’s side. Francisco made a full recovery. If it weren’t for Deputy Anders’ willingness to go out of his way to respond to a fire call and help a stranger, this young husband and father would have died from a previously undiagnosed arrhythmia problem and the resulting heart

Deputy Chad Heinrich

On January 29, 2015, Deputy Heinrich was working his assigned patrol area. He overheard a Fire District being dispatched to a capsized vessel in the Nooksack River near Nugent’s Corner. It was reported that two boaters were in the water and unaccounted for. Deputy Heinrich responded to the boat launch. He observed that the Fire Department was still conducting their pre-launch checks and believed that time was of the essence. Deputy Heinrich observed a citizen, Patrick Mills, pulling his boat from the river and he asked Mr. Mills if he could pilot his boat with Deputy Heinrich aboard to try and locate and rescue the victims. The victim’s core body temperature had dropped significantly and having lost control of voluntary muscle movement, it is very plausible that he could have slipped off the snag and drown in the river at any moment. Deputy Heinrich’s quick thinking and utilization of unorthodox resources; a private citizen’s boat, prevented delay which likely saved the victim’s life.

Corrections Personnel:

On January 13, 2015 an inmate in the Whatcom County Jail attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself with a bed sheet. Deputy Nick Ellis quickly discovered the attempted suicide and summoned assistance. Deputy David Kimball lifted the suicidal man to relieve pressure on his neck and later helped remove the noose from the inmate’s neck. Deputy Chris Freeman, assisted by inmates, helped untie the knot that was secured to a rail. Deputy James Hayes helped lower the inmate to the floor while maintaining control of his cervical spine to prevent injuries. While later guarding the inmate at the hospital, Deputy Hayes convinced him to accept mental health assistance as an alternative to suicide. These deputies’ quick and competent actions prevented the suspect’s death.

Deputy Nick Ellis
Deputy David Kimball
Deputy James Hayes
Deputy Chris Freeman

Bureau Chief’s Commendation Certificate (for actions taken during the January 13, 2015 incident)
The Bureau Chief’s Commendation Certificate is awarded by Bureau Chiefs to those members who, through their own efforts, perform their jobs in a high quality and professional manner.

Deputy Jason Waite
Deputy Landon Marshall
Nurse Abby Aubert
Nurse Brady Hillman

Meritorious Service Award:
The Meritorious Service Award is awarded by the Sheriff to members who whose actions are well in excess of the performance of their duties and have a significant, positive impact in the lives of members of the public.

On November 16, 2014 deputies were summoned to a residence in rural Whatcom County where a convicted and wanted felon was intimidating neighbors by firing a weapon near the property line. When deputies arrived, the suspect pointed the weapon at them and retreated into a building and barricaded himself inside. During the course of this incident, the suspect strategically staged firearms at multiple points in the home. The suspect later opened fire and shot at the deputies multiple times resulting in one deputy being shot in the face. The suspect refused to surrender. Following a volley of shots fired at deputies, the deputies returned fire killing the suspect. Throughout this incident, the deputies relied on their training and deployed good tactics and courage to protect neighbors and each other.

Deputy Brent Wagenaar
Deputy DJ Osborn
Ferndale Officer Justin Pike
Deputy Courtney Polinder
Deputy Damon Bruland
Deputy Jason Nyhus
Deputy Brian Oswalt
Deputy Jason Gum
Deputy Jim Perez
Deputy Rodger Funk
Sergeant Kevin Moyes
Lieutenant Scott Rossmiller

Distinguished Service Cross
The Distinguished Service Cross is awarded by the Sheriff to members who distinguish themselves by demonstrating exceptional bravery despite a known or unknown imminent risk of serious bodily injury or death.

Deputy Bill Roosma
Deputy Magnus Gervol
Deputy Tony Paz
Deputy Todd Damon
Deputy James Triplett
Deputy Austin Streubel
Deputy Erik Francis
Deputy Jarren Van Loo
Deputy Ryan Rathbun
Deputy Mark Jilk

Bureau Chief’s Commendation Certificate

The Bureau Chief’s Commendation Certificate is awarded by Bureau Chiefs to those members who, through their own efforts, perform their jobs in a high quality and professional manner.

On Christmas Eve 2014, Deputy Vandermay and Kimball discovered and interrupted a suicide by hanging in which an inmate had attempted to hang himself with his clothing. The deputies rescued the inmate before he was seriously harmed.

Deputy David Kimball
Deputy Ben Vandermay

Deputy Reis was recognized for taking the initiative to implement strategies to improve the environment and the jail work center to include organizing the painting of the cell areas; improving security procedures and morale.

Deputy Mark Reis

Deputy Turner was recognized for his efforts to improve order, security and safety by taking the initiative and using his talents to build a rapport with inmates; hold them accountable for institutional misbehavior and reduce issues with inmate rule and increase offender accountability.

Deputy Rich Turner

The Distinguished Citizenship Award Patrick Mills

The Distinguished Citizenship Award is s awarded by the Sheriff to any citizen who provides significant assistance to a Sheriff’s Office member or supports Sheriff’s Office missions in a significant way
On January 29, 2015 Deputy Heinrich recognized an urgent need to rescue a man who was clinging on to life in the Nooksack River. Patrick Mills agreed to use his private vessel and pilot Deputy Heinrich to the drowning man and help effectuate a successful rescue.

On January 13, 2015 two inmates in the Whatcom County Jail assisted deputies with rescuing a fellow inmate who had attempted to hang himself with a bed sheet. The inmates specifically assisted the deputies with loosening the knot securing the bed sheet to a rail.

The Distinguished Citizenship Award is s awarded by the Sheriff to any citizen who provides significant assistance to a Sheriff’s Office member or supports Sheriff’s Office missions in a significant way
The inmates did not attend the ceremony and their names are withheld to protect their privacy.

Northwest Regional Gang-Drug task Force Arrests Narcotics Dealers

On October 22, 2014, the Northwest Regional Gang and Drug Task Force (NWRGDTF) completed a ten month investigation of two Everson area men involved in the sale of methamphetamine and heroin in Whatcom County. During the on-going investigation, undercover agents purchased ounce quantities of methamphetamine and heroin from both suspects on multiple occasions. The NWRGDTF was assisted in the investigation by the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, Bellingham Police Department, the Bellingham office of the DEA and the Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The suspects in this investigation are identified as:

Manuel “Manny” Moreno Gonzalez (30 year old male)
1768 E. Pole Road
Everson, WA

Rudolfo “Rudy” Nava (33 year old male)
115 W. Second St.
Everson, WA

Manuel Moreno Gonzalez had previously been identified as a significant supplier of methamphetamine and heroin in Whatcom County. Over the past several months, undercover agents purchased drugs from his Pole Road residence. On the morning of October 22, 2014, Deputies arrested Moreno Gonzalez on a traffic stop in the Lynden, Washington area. A search warrant was then served on his residence on Pole Road. Detectives recovered approximately 2.5 pounds of methamphetamine from the residence, as well as 4 ounces of heroin. They also recovered a stolen handgun and seized approximately $3000 in cash. Moreno Gonzalez is a Mexican citizen who is illegally in the United States. He has previously been deported from the country on three occasions.

Moreno Gonzalez was booked into the Whatcom County Jail on the investigation of the following charges:
• 4 counts of Delivery of a Controlled Substance (Methamphetamine and Heroin)
• Maintaining a Vehicle/Premises for Drug Trafficking
• Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Deliver
• Possession of Heroin with Intent to Deliver
• Possession of a Stolen Firearm
• Unlawful Possession of a Firearm 2nd (previously convicted of a felony)
• Alien in Possession of a Firearm

Rudolfo Nava had previously been identified as a distributor of narcotics in Whatcom County and has previously been arrested by the NWRGDTF for narcotics sales and deliveries. It is believed Moreno Gonzalez supplies Nava with the narcotics and Nava then makes sales of the drugs in Whatcom County. Over the past several months, undercover agents purchased heroin and methamphetamine from Nava in controlled-buy situations.

On the morning of October 22, 2014, law enforcement attempted to arrest Nava at a location in the 7000 block of Everson Goshen Road. Nava attempted to flee from agents in a vehicle he was driving. Officers pursued Nava to a location in the 600 block of Roeder Avenue in Everson, where he was forced to stop and taken into custody without further incident. Nava was booked into the Whatcom County Jail on the investigation of 3 counts of Delivery of a Controlled Substance-Heroin. Additional charges may be pending in regards to further Narcotics Violations as well as Felony Eluding. Nava has six previous felony convictions, of which 5 are related to drug violations.

Babysitter and accomplices arrested for false report of home invasion robbery.

At approx. 1619 hours on June 18th 2014 a babysitter called 911 to report that two males had forced their way into the home where she was watching two young children. She stated that she fled the home with the children when she was ordered to leave by the suspects. She called 911 from a neighbor’s home.

The babysitter described the suspects as two black males, dressed in dark clothing, both 20 to 30 years old and very tall. She stated that both were very tall and that one had a knife and the other appeared to have a firearm which she saw partially protruding from one of the backpacks.

As the initial report described armed individuals that forced their way into an occupied residence, numerous deputies, to include Special Response Team members, responded to the scene to secure the area and locate the suspects. At one point it was believed that the suspects might have barricaded themselves in the victim home, which was later successfully cleared and no one was found inside. A Customs and Border Protection Helicopter also provided aerial surveillance and security for the perimeter units.

The reporting babysitter provided a statement to detectives describing the home invasion by unknown suspects, but eventually admitted under questioning that she was involved in the plan to steal valuables from the home and in fact had two accomplices. She had contributed a list of items that she wanted from the home as well. Detectives were able to learn the identity of the accomplices and their probable whereabouts. One of the accomplices is the babysitter’s boyfriend.

Detectives then contacted two white males leaving the area of the Shamrock Motel near W. Bakerview Road in Bellingham in a vehicle. The males were identified as Reuben Benjamin and a 16 year old passenger, who is the boyfriend of the reporting babysitter.

Both subjects admitted to going to the victim residence and taking property from the home. All property stolen was located a recovered. The property is estimated to be valued at $1500.00 and includes laptop computers, game system components, a piggy bank and other items.

Three subjects were arrested, including the reporting party who is a juvenile her name and the boyfriend’s name are not being released due their status as juveniles. They are both Bellingham residents living in the 4100 Block of W. Maplewood Avenue.

The adult arrested is: Ruben J. Benjamin, 5/22/1996, living at 4133 W. Maplewood Ave, Bellingham.

Charges pending are: Robbery 2nd, Theft 2nd, Conspiracy to commit Robbery, and Perjury 2nd (false report and statement).

Information on Safety Patrols for the Nooksack River Tubing Season 2014

JOINT PRESS RELEASE – Whatcom County Executive Jack Louws and Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo

Monday, April 28

The recreational tubing season is fast approaching and the Sheriff’s Office and County Government would like to provide notice to the public that criminal activity associated with tubing on the Nooksack River will be met with enhanced patrols and stricter enforcement during the 2014 summer season. The primary focus of the patrols will be the stretch of the Nooksack from the Mt. Baker Hwy (SR 542) to Acme.

County Executive Jack Louws, last year, committed to additional overtime funding to support a multi-year proactive enforcement strategy for the South Fork of the Nooksack. The County Executive, Sheriff’s Office and the Public Works Department continue to work on ways to address the concerns of local residents in the interest of safe and legal access to this recreational area. Public Works staff will soon install signs on Potter and Strand roads as well as at the old campground in Acme notifying tubers to please park legally, pick up litter, do not trespass, and respect residents.

The Sheriff’s Office has, in past years, responded to increased complaints associated with tubers during the months of June through August. These calls included a gamut of issues from trespassing, littering, minors consuming alcohol, open containers of alcohol, public indecency, disorderly conduct, driving under the influence or driving recklessly to parking and other traffic violations.

In 2013, over 500 people were contacted and approximately 220 people were provided a verbal warning and educated on the laws as they related to recreational use of the Nooksack River. Additionally, deputies arrested 61 people for alcohol violations, as well as five for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs; 22 people were arrested for criminal trespassing. There were 75 citations and infractions issued for parking violations.

Those who plan to enjoy recreation on or along the Nooksack need to be cognizant of the applicable laws and be respectful of private property. Due to several points of public access to the river, it is considered a public place. In accordance with RCW 66.44.100, open container and consumption of alcohol is not permitted in public areas.

With regard to illegal parking, vehicles found to be blocking the travel portions of county roadways will be towed at the owner’s expense, in addition to receiving a ticket. Drivers need to pay attention to posted county signs designating where vehicles may and may not park. It is essential that roadways be kept clear so delivery of emergency vehicles and resources for those in need can be maintained.

Contact: Chief Criminal Deputy Doug Chadwick, 360 676 6650

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.

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.”