Three more arrests in ‘drug ripoff’ shooting at Ferndale motel

Lee’s Summit Journal

Police have arrested three more people in connection with the weekend shooting at a Ferndale motel, raising the number of suspects in custody to six – including the man who got shot.

Police said they think they have the key participants in custody, although more arrests are possible.

“It was probably a botched drug ripoff,” Ferndale police Lt. Matt Huffman said Wednesday. “The investigation is still ongoing. We’re getting a lot of conflicting information.”

Austin Dean Grimme, 26, of Bellingham, was booked Tuesday on suspicion of first-degree assault and first-degree robbery. Huffman said Bellingham police arrested Grimme and turned him over to Ferndale authorities.

Also arrested Tuesday were Stephen Conrad Coakley, 32, on suspicion of first-degree rendering criminal assistance, and Brittany Lynn Plagerman, 26, booked on a state Department of Corrections warrant and for controlled substance manufacturing, delivery and possession with intent. They were arrested by Whatcom County sheriff’s deputies during a traffic stop, Huffman said.

“More arrests are possible,” Huffman said. “It appears that we have the most dangerous ones arrested.”

Tuesday’s arrests are part of the investigation this week into a shooting Saturday at the Orca Inn Suites, 5370 Barrett Road.

The incident came to light about 11 p.m. Saturday, when staff at St. Joseph hospital notified police that they were treating Dustin Monroe Wilson for a gunshot wound to the head. Medical personnel are required to notify authorities when they encounter certain kinds of injuries, including gunshot and knife wounds.

Wilson, 30, who apparently was only grazed by a bullet, was treated and released from the hospital. He was booked Sunday into Whatcom County Jail on a felony warrant for escaping community custody, and transferred to the custody of the state Department of Corrections on Monday, according to jail records.

Ferndale police said Wilson told investigators he went to use drugs at a room in the Orca Inn Suites, near Interstate 5 and the Smith Road overpass. Wilson said that while he was in the room, he was shot in the head by an unknown person. Wilson called a relative, who drove him to the hospital.

Based on Wilson’s statement, police got a search warrant for the motel room, which showed signs of drug activity and further evidence of a shooting, police said. Sheriff’s deputies assisted Ferndale police with the investigation.

On Monday, police arrested Riley Dewitt Cooper, 24, and Stevi Patricia Day, 25, in connection with the shooting. Cooper was booked into Whatcom County Jail on charges of first-degree assault with a firearm and controlled substance manufacturing, delivery and possession with intent. Day faces charges of first-degree rendering criminal assistance and controlled substance manufacturing, delivery and possession with intent.

According to The Bellingham Herald files, Orca Inn Suites was built in 1996 as a Best Western hotel, but it closed and was turned into an assisted living facility. It opened under a two-year conditional use permit in April as the 39-room Orca Inn Suites. Neighbors at the time voiced objections to its opening, citing the possibility of illegal activity.

On Monday, motel owner Tony Dhariwal said a guest in an adjoining room heard a “thump” about the time of the shooting, but no suspicious activity was seen.

Riley Sweeney, communications officer for the city of Ferndale, said Wednesday that city officials met Tuesday to discuss the situation, but made no decision on the motel’s permit.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty