Man who robbed Bellingham coffee stand with knife gets prison for robbing second one

This police sketch led to the arrest of Zachary Scott Ranahan, 30, who was convicted of robbing a Bellingham coffee stand, the same crime he committed six years earlier.
This police sketch led to the arrest of Zachary Scott Ranahan, 30, who was convicted of robbing a Bellingham coffee stand, the same crime he committed six years earlier. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

An Everson man was sentenced to 3½ years in prison after a jury convicted him of robbing a Bellingham coffee stand shortly after he was relieved of his probation for robbing another coffee stand.

Zachary Scott Ranahan, 30, served a two-year prison sentence for the armed robbery of Cruisin Coffee on Calluna Court in March 2010, when Ranahan and another man threatened two baristas with knives, according to charging papers. Ranahan confessed to the crime a day later, when he was detained for running off with $4,000 worth of rings from a Bellingham jewerly store.

Six years later, almost to the day, Ranahan was arrested to face charges of robbing Buzz Thru Coffee on Meridian Street. He had ordered an espresso shake from a barista at the drive-up window on March 15, 2015, and as she turned around to make it, Ranahan climbed through the window, court records show.

He told her: “I won’t hurt you if you give me the money.”

She opened the till for him and climbed out the window, cutting her leg on a piece of metal badly enough that she needed stitches. She described the man as white, stocky, in a grayish beanie and a track suit.

About the same time, a witness saw a man hustling to a red, two-door car down the street. A police sketch was released to the public and detectives got a tip that it looked like Ranahan.

State troopers pulled over a red Honda Civic with a broken brake light around 8 p.m. March 23, 2015, off Meridian Street. The driver handed over a license for a man who was 6-foot-1, though he looked at least six inches shorter. The trooper asked about the discrepancy, and Ranahan bolted out of the car to an apartment one block north on Westerly Road.

A woman with a baby in her arms answered his knock, thinking it was her boyfriend returning from grocery shopping. Ranahan forced his way inside and hid in the bathroom. The boyfriend came home and to get the stranger to leave they offered him a ride.

But instead, they called 911.

Police converged on Ranahan as he sat in the resident’s car. Officers found he had brass knuckles with a built-in, spring-loaded blade, according to charging papers.

Already, Ranahan had spent much of his adult life behind bars.

In the gap between the two robberies, he slipped up on probation many times: using drugs, having drugs in his possession, and absconding from supervision. He served another 14-month prison sentence for stealing thousands of dollars worth of tools from a Ferndale business in 2014, according to court records.

Seven months before the Buzz Thru robbery, he was relieved of his probation from the Cruisin Coffee robbery.

Last month the second robbery case went to trial. Ranahan did not take the stand during 2½ days of witness testimony. Jurors spent a full day deliberating before finding him guilty Dec. 9, of second-degree robbery and second-degree burglary.

Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Deborra Garrett on Tuesday sentenced him to three years, seven months in prison, the maximum within state guidelines.

For the break-in at the couple’s apartment, Ranahan pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree criminal impersonation and first-degree criminal trespassing. Court records show he was sentenced to another 300 days of jail. He can serve that time on work release.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb