Woman identified in stray-bullet shooting near Ferndale


FERNDALE - A woman killed by a stray bullet at a Father's Day barbecue has been identified as Alyssa Christine Smith, 23, a former honor student at Ferndale High School.

Smith, of Bellingham, had been attending a family cookout at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, June 16, when her father called 911 to report bullets flying over the treetops near Gadwa Road, west of the Nooksack River.

Smith and her father searched for the source of the gunfire, hoping to get the attention of whoever was shooting in their direction, said Whatcom County Undersheriff Jeff Parks. Eventually, they gave up and turned back.

As Smith headed to the house, a bullet - fired from about a half-mile away - struck her in the chest, according to the sheriff's office.

Deputies were en route to the scene when Smith's father called 911 again, saying she'd been hit.

Family members, distraught by the sudden loss, have struggled to provide much more information to detectives.

"We're still trying to re-create where everyone was," Parks said.

Gunshots continued to echo in the distance when deputies arrived. They followed the sound to find five target shooters across the river. Two of those men - Robert Allen Lee, 23, of Bellingham, and Douglas Eugene Quiding Jr., 40, of Whatcom County - were booked into jail on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Two high-powered rifles, two handguns, magazines and ammunition were confiscated.

Depending on the outcome of the investigation, Lee and Quiding may face more serious charges.

Whatcom County Superior Court Commissioner David M. Thorn set bail at $5,000 each. Both of them posted bond Monday. Under the terms of their release, they're not allowed to own guns, knives or any weapons. They're scheduled for arraignment June 28.

Lee, a resident of King Mountain Road, has a criminal history including illegal possession of a dangerous weapon, felony assault, violating no-contact orders, possession of methamphetamine and bail jumping.

Quiding had three felonies on his record. For his most recent conviction, in 2006, he threatened to climb into an ex-girlfriend's window to inject her with bleach. His last known address borders the east bank of the Nooksack River, just to the northwest of Gadwa Road.

Investigators believe the shooters fired some rounds at targets they'd set up. The undersheriff declined to go into further detail because detectives continue to examine evidence.

"I know everyone wants to know these things now," Parks said. "But this is going to be, as always, a methodical investigation."

Smith died at 1 a.m. Monday, according to authorities. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Her family released a statement Tuesday that aired on Q13 FOX News: "Alyssa was a wonderful, sweet and loving young woman who was tragically taken from us."

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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