Several explosive devices and illegal firearms were found Tuesday inside the home of one of two men accused in a March drive-by shooting in the Birchwood neighborhood where bullets almost struck a teenager, according to a press release from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s deputies, FBI agents, Lummi Nation Law and Order and members of the Bellingham Police Department’s and State Patrol’s hazardous devices units served a search warrant on Robert Kent Chase’s home in the 2600 block of Cagey Road on the Lummi Reservation Tuesday morning shortly after 10 a.m.
Detectives found information during their investigation that led them to believe Chase, 54, had materials and tools on his property related to illegal firearms and explosives, and that he was suspected of assembling fully automatic firearms and homemade explosive devices.
Two makeshift grenades and one dual-triggered improvised explosive device, or IED, were found, according to the sheriff’s office. Explosive device technicians dismantled the grenades and the IED was rendered safe on the scene.
Two rifles, a handgun, parts and tools used in the assembly of fully automatic firearms, chemicals — including gunpowder — used to manufacture fireworks or explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition and reloading supplies were also found.
Chase could face additional state and federal charges, as he is a convicted felon and can’t possess firearms.
Chase has previously been convicted of drug offenses and unlawful possession of a firearm. He also was charged with third-degree assault (bodily harm) in August 2017, but the case was dismissed after the victim couldn't be located, according to Whatcom County Superior Court records.
Undersheriff Jeff Parks with the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday it’s possible the FBI or other federal authorities will be taking over the current case.
The Bellingham/Marietta Fire Department, the State Crime Lab and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also assisted with the search warrant.
Chase, and another man, Gene Oliver Parker Jr., 33, each pleaded not guilty March 23 to one count of first-degree assault while armed with a deadly weapon, one count of a drive-by shooting and five counts of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.
They are both being held in the Whatcom County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.
Their trials have been tentatively set for May 14.