Man arrested, another taken to hospital after stabbing in downtown Bellingham

Defendant in downtown stabbing makes first appearance in Superior Court

Victor Blanco-Martinez makes his first appearance in Whatcom Superior Court on Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Blanco-Martinez is accused of first-degree assault.
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Victor Blanco-Martinez makes his first appearance in Whatcom Superior Court on Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Blanco-Martinez is accused of first-degree assault.

A man was taken to St. Joseph hospital after a stabbing outside a downtown Bellingham bar Thursday night, police said.

Victor Blanco-Martinez, 34, of Bellingham, was booked into the Whatcom County Jail on suspicion of first-degree assault, said Lt. Danette Beckley, a Bellingham police spokeswoman.

Officers responded to the report of a stabbing in front of the Shakedown at 1212 N. State St. just before 10 p.m., Beckley said in an email. A bystander helped the victim and gave police a description of Blanco-Martinez. Police found and arrested him shortly thereafter near the YMCA on the same block.

Blanco-Martinez was carrying a knife that appeared to have blood on it, police said.

The victim, a 26-year-old man, was taken to the hospital with a stab wound to the chest and additional injuries to his head and face, Beckley said. He was in fair condition Friday, said Hilary Andrade, a hospital spokeswoman.

A witness told police the two men fought before the incident, but officers were unable to talk with the victim because of his condition, Beckley said.

Blanco-Martinez made his first appearance in Whatcom County Superior Court on Friday afternoon before Commissioner David Thorne. He has lived in Whatcom County since 1989, said Angela Anderson, Blanco-Martinez’s public defender.

Erik Sigmar, the deputy prosecutor, told the court Blanco-Martinez admitted to being in a fight when police arrested him. He also had injuries to his face, Sigmar said, reading from charging papers.

Blanco-Martinez has proven himself a flight risk eight times in the past, Sigmar said, urging Thorne to set bail at $100,000. Thorne followed the recommendation.

Prior conviction

Blanco-Martinez was sentenced in another assault case involving a weapon in August 2009, according to court records.

In that case, he had been driving south on Interstate 5 in a black GMC Yukon. Leonardo Blanco-Martinez, whose relationship to Victor is not clear in court papers, was in the passenger seat.

As Victor Blanco-Martinez was driving, Leonardo, leaning out of the passenger-side window, used an aluminum bat to break the driver-side windows of a van driving in an adjacent lane with two people inside, records say. The woman driving the van tried speeding away, and eventually got off the freeway at the State Street exit as the men kept driving south.

She called police from the parking lot of a nearby Subway. A witness driving in another car also stopped to give details to a state patrol trooper, according to court papers.

A Bellingham police officer found the Yukon driving near Samish Way and 36th Street and followed it until it stopped at a house along the 500 block of 38th Street, according to charging papers. Both men got out of the car, and a man who had stepped out of the front door of the home told the officer he did not know the men.

The officer yelled at both men to get back into the car, charging papers say, which they both initially ignored. Police eventually arrested both without further incident. Under the Yukon’s back seat, officers found a red aluminum bat with scratch marks on it, according to court papers.

Victor Blanco-Martinez, whose breath smelled of alcohol, told police someone had thrown bottles at the Yukon. Police found damage on the rear passenger side door of the Yukon that could have been from a bottle, court papers say.

Both denied knowing anything about bats being swung and glass breaking on the freeway.

When booked into jail, Victor Blanco-Martinez gave a breath sample more than double the legal limit.

Both initially were charged with second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, but their charges were reduced seven months later to third-degree malicious mischief and reckless endangerment. They were sentenced to a year in jail with all but 30 days of that time suspended, according to sentencing papers.

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan