Crime

Two injured by gunfire in Everson robbery

The Sun News

Two people were shot in an armed robbery in a neighborhood southwest of downtown Everson on Saturday evening.

Both victims were taken to St. Joseph hospital by ambulance after the 8:30 p.m. shooting on the 600 block of Chestnut Street, authorities said. The victims were not identified, and information on their conditions was not immediately known.

Police and fire officials said their gunshot wounds were serious but likely would not prove fatal. One victim suffered a gunshot wound to the upper leg, and the other was shot in the buttocks, authorities said.

Chief Mel Blankers of Whatcom County Fire District 1 said his firefighters were able to reach the victims and provide treatment because Everson police secured the scene almost immediately. Crews of two Medic One ambulances treated the victims, and several District 1 firefighters assisted en route to the hospital, he said.

“We got in there right away. Law enforcement was able to get the scene secure fairly quickly,” Blankers said.

Meanwhile, Tita Keanu Preston Paul, 21, was arrested on two counts of attempted murder and one count of first-degree robbery in connection with the incident, said Everson police Chief Dan MacPhee.

Paul was booked late Saturday at the Whatcom County Jail and remained in custody on Sunday. A jail website entry booking him on second-degree murder was in error, Sheriff Bill Elfo said.

MacPhee said Whatcom County sheriff’s deputies saw Paul walking south on Mission Road south of the crime scene, and evidence connected him to the shooting. He did not elaborate.

“On the basis of that, we were able to establish probable cause for an arrest,” MacPhee said. He said the incident remains under investigation and was unable to discuss details – including the circumstances of the shooting and the relationship of the suspect to the two people. MacPhee said a gun was recovered, but he couldn’t discuss the type of firearm or its caliber.

Streets in the area were opened to traffic early Sunday, as authorities from several Whatcom County law enforcement agencies worked overnight, in darkness and heavy rain, to find and record evidence, MacPhee said.

Everson, with a 2013 population of 2,553, had two police officers on duty Saturday night.

“It was a great collaborative effort,” MacPhee said. “Everybody came to lend a hand.”

Participating agencies included Bellingham, Sumas and Nooksack Tribal police departments, Customs and Border Protection and the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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