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Teen charged in Mount Vernon officer shooting pleads guilty

The 15-year-old boy arrested in connection with the Dec. 15 shooting of Mount Vernon police Officer Mike McClaughry pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree assault with a deadly weapon and fourth-degree assault.

Roberto Lopez Jr. agreed to be sentenced as an adult, a move Skagit County Superior Court Judge Michael Rickert called “extremely rare.”

“That’s serious, serious, serious stuff,” Rickert said.

If you’re going to clean up your young life, now is the time to do it.

Skagit County Superior Court Judge Michael Rickert

Lopez originally was charged as a juvenile with one count of first-degree attempted murder in the shooting of McClaughry and one count of second-degree attempted murder in the shooting that brought McClaughry and other officers to a home on North LaVenture Road.

The second-degree assault charge is for Lopez’s role as an accomplice in the Dec. 15 shooting of a man in the neck, an incident McClaughry was investigating when he was shot.

The evidence against my client is slim, but he is in the middle of a burning fire.

Corbin Volluz, lawyer for Roberto Lopez Jr.

“The evidence against my client is slim, but he is in the middle of a burning fire,” Lopez’s attorney, Corbin Volluz, said.

The other assault charge concerns a November domestic violence case.

Rickert sentenced Lopez to six months for the second-degree assault charge and 15 days for the domestic violence charge. The terms will be served concurrently.

“If you’re going to clean up your young life, now is the time to do it,” Rickert said.

The second-degree assault with a deadly weapon charge is a “first strike” for Lopez. In Washington state, a person convicted of three strikes will serve life in prison.

Speaking of the assertion that the shooting of the man in the neck was related to gang violence, Rickert urged Lopez to reconsider his choices.

“That’s not working out for you,” Rickert said. “It has got you in one world of hurt.”

Lopez was one of three suspects arrested after an hours-long standoff outside a North LaVenture Road home on Dec. 15.

The other two – 16-year-old Austin Gonzales and 44-year-old Ernesto Lee Rivas – are set to be arraigned Thursday.

Gonzales is charged with first-degree attempted murder in the shooting of the man in the neck, and Rivas is charged with first-degree attempted murder in the shooting of McClaughry.

McClaughry remains at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he was taken in critical condition the evening of the shooting.

He continues to make progress on his recovery and is set to be moved out of the intensive care wing of the hospital and to a physical therapy floor, Mount Vernon police Lt. Greg Booth said.

“We are all pleased that he’s going to be able to do his physical therapy there,” Booth said.

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