WWU teaching assistant charged with shooting Bellingham man in stomach, both legs


BELLINGHAM - A Western Washington University teaching assistant shot a Nevada Street resident three times - once in the stomach and once in each leg - after the victim confronted him for "messing with" a parked car, according to charging documents filed Wednesday, May 15.

Joshua Kiener, 30, and two male friends were wrestling in front of a house on the east side of the 2600 block of Nevada at 10:20 p.m. Saturday. They had been drinking earlier in the day and were at "mixed" levels of intoxication, said Whatcom County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Mac Setter.

Two neighbors, identified as Kamuran D. Chabuk, 27, and his girlfriend, came up to the group and asked if the fighting was a "domestic violence issue," according to the charges. "No," Kiener's group answered.

Chabuk took pictures, possibly video, of the sparring on his phone, Setter said. At some point Chabuk moved to a dark area near the residents' cars.

Kiener asked him what he was doing. He suspected Chabuk might have scratched one of the cars on purpose. But Chabuk didn't reply, according to Setter.

So Kiener approached him. Chabuk and his girlfriend retreated in the direction of their duplex across the street, and Kiener followed.

According to prosecutors, Chabuk warned him, incorrectly, that he was on private property. Then, from a distance of about 10 feet, Chabuk fired two shots from a 9-millimeter Smith & Wesson handgun, Setter said. Witnesses heard a third bang a few seconds later.

"The victim didn't know (Chabuk) had a gun until he was shot," Setter said.

Kiener did not have a weapon.

Kiener, bleeding from three gunshot wounds, tried to walk back to his friends, but collapsed on the sidewalk.

Police blocked off roads while they searched for the gunman. Paramedics loaded Kiener into an ambulance bound for St. Joseph hospital. He was in satisfactory condition Wednesday.

About the time Kiener was being helped, Chabuk called 911 from his home. He told the dispatcher "he thought he was in danger and a person was shot," according to the charges.

Police ordered Chabuk from the home at gunpoint. He came peacefully. Officers recovered the gun from inside. He was licensed to carry a concealed pistol and had no felony convictions.

Chabuk's phone has since been impounded as evidence. A warrant to search the phone was granted Wednesday, Setter said. He added that he has yet to review the images or footage.

Prosecutors charged Chabuk Wednesday with first-degree assault with a firearm, a class A felony.

Chabuk, a graduate student, has taught three 100-level math classes at WWU in the past year, under the supervision of a professor. Another teacher is filling in for the final weeks of his precalculus class.

Chabuk has been barred from campus pending the investigation, according to university officials. His recent studies included an examination of Google's PageRank system.

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Dispatcher blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher or follow him on Twitter at @bhamcrime.

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