Whatcom County resident, 19, opens fire on fleeing home invasion burglars, deputies say

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A home invasion west of Ferndale ended in four arrests Tuesday, after the resident opened fire on the fleeing suspects.

A group of armed men wearing bandannas and masks knocked on a door in the 4900 block of Elder Road around 11 a.m., according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office. The door was unlocked, so the suspects walked inside, where they were confronted by a resident, age 19. One man had a knife. One had pepper spray, and the teenage resident got sprayed in the face, according to the sheriff’s office.

The resident grabbed an AR-15-style rifle. He showed it to the suspects, who ran when they saw the weapon and jumped into a green Honda, said Undersheriff Jeff Parks. One of the fleeing men ran through the neighborhood, instead of getting into the northbound car.

The resident fired two rounds from the rifle “in an attempt to disable the vehicle,” according to the sheriff’s office. Sheriff’s deputies found a green Honda car broken down about 2 miles northwest at Olson and Unick roads, with at least one bullet hole in the car, though Parks wasn’t sure if that’s why it broke down.

Within a quarter-hour of the emergency call, sheriff’s deputies arrested three men by the car: Jose Luis Romero Jr., 20, of Bellingham; Ivan Josue Sanchez-Arce, 29, of Burlington; and Benjamin William Morvee, 25, of Ferndale.

The trio were booked into jail to face a charge of first-degree burglary. Other charges could be added as the investigation unfolds, Parks said.

Deputies later found Alex Presley Villarreal, 19, of Bellingham “roaming” the area north of the scene of the incident, with clothing and a bicycle that were stolen from another house, according to the sheriff’s office. He was arrested and booked on the same charge along with an additional count of residential burglary.

Sheriff’s detectives are investigating why the men targeted that home in the 4900 block of Elder Road. Information about the incident was released Thursday evening.

Court records show Romero had been out of jail on $2,000 bond, in a case where he’s charged with possessing methamphetamine. Morvee had been convicted of that crime in 2011.

Whatcom County Superior Court Commissioner Leon Henley set bail at $75,000 for Morvee, $50,000 for Romero, $10,000 for Sanchez-Arce and $5,000 for Villarreal.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb