Shooter fired point-blank as couple sat in car near Acme, sheriff says

Authorities are seeking the gunman in a brazen killing about 8 p.m. Tuesday in the 6000 block of Saxon Road south of Acme, in the rural Mount Baker foothills.

Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said Wednesday that the suspect is a man in his 20s with a small build and initially reported to be wearing dark clothes with a bandanna covering his face. He was not identified.

“It is believed that the shooting was a deliberate targeting of the victim and the community at large is not in danger of random attacks by this suspect,” Elfo said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon.

Firefighters had to wait to treat the injured man until law enforcement officers could secure the scene.

The victim, a 27-year-old man, was flown by helicopter to St. Joseph Hospital with a gunshot wound to his head, Elfo said. He died Wednesday afternoon.

“The victim was in a vehicle,” Elfo said. “It was reported that someone came up and shot him through the window.”

Elfo said the victim was sitting with his girlfriend in a car parked outside a home, with other people inside. The man spoke briefly to the couple, then fired point-blank at the victim, according to the sheriff’s office statement. He fled on foot.

The motive for the shooting was unknown.

Sheriff’s deputies and other law enforcement officials searched with dogs and aircraft as temperatures in the remote South Fork Valley dipped into the low 20s and a gusty 20-mph breeze blew from the northeast.

“They did an extensive search with SWAT and helicopter,” Elfo said.

“No other persons were injured during the shooting, and multiple residences in the area were contacted and checked by law enforcement as well. Detectives and crime scene personnel worked throughout the night to process the crime scene, conduct interviews and investigate leads that have been developed in this case,” Elfo said. “It’s going to require extensive investigation.”

Elfo said anyone with information about the shooting should call the sheriff’s office at 360-778-6600, or 911 if the information is “exigent,” such as the suspect’s name or whereabouts.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty