BELLINGHAM Rioting inmates in a maximum-security cellblock at Whatcom County Jail caused about $10,000 property damage and sent one inmate to the hospital late Wednesday, Oct. 24.
The inmates many of them held on charges of robbery, assault and kidnapping flooded toi-lets, pried off cell locks and ripped chunks of the heating system off of the walls at 9:30 p.m. in the D block, on the jails second floor.
Guards on duty called for backup. It took about an hour to get everything under control, said Whatcom County Undersheriff Jeff Parks.
Windows in the common space were shattered and inmates tried to force open a temporary exit door used as part of ongoing repair work. Nobody escaped.
The inmates were upset about being in lockdown Wednesday evening for a hard headcount basically a roll call that took longer than usual, said Whatcom County Chief of Corrections Wendy Jones.
Fourteen inmates were housed in the cellblock. Six were named by the sheriffs office as the riots instigators:
- Christopher J. Baker, 25. He was charged in August with pointing a gun at people in a Bellingham bar before firing shots into the air. He was scheduled to enter a guilty plea on Thursday, according to court records.
- Ananda S. Eichhorn, 36. He was arrested in May on suspicion of binding five people with duct tape in a Bellingham home-invasion robbery. He had a violent criminal history of robbery. The latest case is ongoing.
- Gavin Haggith, 30. He was accused in July of swerving his truck at a jogger on Brown Road and then beating him so badly the victim needed facial surgery.
In October, a few weeks after posting $75,000 bond, he was charged with burglarizing supplies from a Habitat for Humanity construction site. Both cases are ongoing.
- Phillip Krist, 30. He was charged this spring with shocking a man with a cattle prod in a kidnapping near Ferndale. That case is ongoing. When he was 14 years old, Krist shot and killed a boy with a .22-caliber rifle in Whatcom County.
- Dustin C. White, 24. He was sentenced last month to 60 days in jail for kicking out the window of a Lummi Nation police patrol car. He had two past robbery convictions.
- Sergey Zhuk, 26. He was arrested after an alleged drive-by shooting at a Bellingham home in July. Since then he has been charged with possessing marijuana that was smuggled into the jail. Both cases are ongoing.
After the riot, one inmate was taken to St. Joseph hospital for a cut to his ankle. The mans name was not released. Parks said he was probably hurt by the large metal vent screen that inmates were throwing at the glass windows. The screen was smeared with blood.
All six men accused of leading the riot were put in isolation. Other inmates housed in D block were relocated within the jail. Jones estimated itll take about a week before the repair is finished and the cellblock can be used again.
In a written statement, Sheriff Bill Elfo blamed the crumbling concrete walls and a deteriorated jail building for letting inmates turn the heating vent into a makeshift weapon.
Despite all of the interim measures we have taken to try and maintain the jail, the bottom line is that the overall infrastructure continues to fail and needs to be replaced, Elfo said.
On Facebook, the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office posted this video, taken from a handheld camera, that shows some of the riot in progress.
Reach Caleb Hutton at email@example.com or call 360-715-2276.