Man arrested for Motel 6 shooting says it was meant to be a 'warning shot'

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A man arrested in connection with a shooting at a Ferndale Motel 6 last week that put another man in a temporary coma pleaded not guilty Friday in Whatcom County Superior Court.

Jason Matthew Riemland, 44, who was arrested March 9, has been charged with first-degree assault while armed with a firearm, according to court records.

His trial has been tentatively set for May 21.

Minutes before 9 a.m. on March 8, Ferndale police were dispatched to a shooting and stabbing at the Motel 6 at 5671 Riverside Drive. Officers found three people — two males and one female — near the front entrance.

One of the males, later identified as John Vaughn, 36, said he was was “having difficulty breathing, coughing up blood, and stated that he ‘thought he was going to die',” according to court records.

Vaughn was suffering from an apparent gunshot wound and was taken to St. Joseph hospital. The bullet missed major organs, but collapsed Vaughn’s lung, causing internal bleeding, the records state. His left scapula was also shattered. He was put in a medically induced coma.

As of Friday, Vaughn was in satisfactory condition, according to a hospital spokesperson.

When speaking with a sheriff’s deputy, Riemland said “I (expletive) shot him. I hope I didn’t kill him,” the records state. Riemland then told the deputy he thought Vaughn was going to stab him in the jugular, and didn’t mean to shoot him, the records state.

Riemland sustained a gash to his left lower jaw area and was treated at the hospital and released into custody.

During an interview with a detective, Riemland said he and Vaughn used to be friends. Riemland told the deputy he was helping out their mutual friend, the woman who was found with the two men at the hotel, get back on her feet, the records state.

Riemland said the night before the shooting Vaughn sent him threatening Facebook messages for helping the woman, but declined to show the messages to detectives, according to court records. He said the woman asked him to pick her up at the Motel 6.

When he got there, he and Vaughn had a conversation, but then Vaughn lunged at him and stabbed him in the jaw with what Riemland described as a wood-and-copper-handled dagger, records state.

Riemland said he thought he was going to die and felt like Vaughn intended to kill him. Riemland told the detective he grabbed a revolver and only meant to fire a “warning shot,” but later “stated that maybe he should have ‘finished him off’,” records state.

Surveillance footage from the motel, however, show Riemland as the aggressor, not Vaughn, according to the records.

Surveillance footage shows the two men sitting adjacent to one another in their vehicles in the motel parking lot. Vaughn approached Riemland’s truck and the two had a 20-second conversation before Vaughn is seen making a punching/striking movement toward Riemland, records state.

Vaughn then backed away from Riemland’s vehicle, got into the backseat of his own and the car started. Riemland can be seen struggling with what is suspected to be a gun in the center console, according to the records.

Vaughn exited the vehicle as Riemland approached. Riemland then shot Vaughn and he fell to the ground, according to the records. The car Vaughn was in sped away, records state.

The footage show Riemland and the woman making multiple trips from a hotel room to Riemland’s truck. Riemland also throws several items into a garbage can, the records show.

Detectives found a glass pipe, neon rubber tube and small plastic baggie with white crystalline matter inside the garbage bin. A .357 revolver was also found in Riemland’s room, records show.