FERNDALE - A 23-year-old woman has died after a stray bullet - fired from more than a half-mile away - struck her in the chest at a Father's Day barbecue.
Her dad called 911 in the late afternoon Sunday, June 16, to report bullets whizzing overhead at a family cookout on Gadwa Road, just west of the Nooksack River, said Whatcom County Sheriff's Sgt. Kevin Moyes. Moments later the man called back saying his daughter had been hit in the chest.
She was taken to St. Joseph hospital with critical injuries from a single bullet wound. Monday morning she succumbed to her injuries.
Responding sheriff's deputies heard more gunfire echoing on the other side of the river. They traced the shots to a group of five people a little more than a half mile to the east. All of them were detained and interviewed. They had been shooting handguns and high-powered rifles near the riverbank, in the direction of the house on Gadwa, according to the sheriff's office.
Deputies seized two rifles and two handguns, along with ammunition.
Two of those men - Robert Allen Lee, 23, of Bellingham, and Douglas Eugene Quiding Jr., 40, of Ferndale - were booked into jail Sunday, said Whatcom County Undersheriff Jeff Parks. Each of them faces four counts of felon in possession of a firearm. They did not know the woman or her family.
Detectives continued to track down witnesses Monday afternoon. Depending on the investigation, Lee and Quiding may face much more serious charges.
People gathered at the house Monday morning declined to speak to a reporter. Authorities had not released the woman's name as of Monday evening.