Lynden police looking for two suspects in fatal shooting

Lynden Police Department are looking for Salvador "Chuco" Rodriguez, left, and Oscar Rodriguez in connection with a fatal shooting Tuesday night, Nov. 22, 2011 near Lynden High School.
Lynden Police Department are looking for Salvador "Chuco" Rodriguez, left, and Oscar Rodriguez in connection with a fatal shooting Tuesday night, Nov. 22, 2011 near Lynden High School. COURTESY TO THE HERALD

LYNDEN - Police were looking for two brothers involved in a shooting near Lynden High School that killed a Ferndale man and left his father with a gunshot wound to the head late Tuesday, Nov. 22.

Jesse L. Winchester, 22, of Ferndale, was found dead about 11:20 p.m. after a shooting was reported by a witness at a two-story house at 1213 Bradley Road, according to Lynden Police.

The other victim, Jeremiah L. Winchester, 40, was taken to St. Joseph hospital with a head wound. Police were waiting for approval from doctors to interview him; it's unclear whether he's expected to recover. No update on his status was available.

Police released photographs Wednesday evening of two people wanted in connection with the shootings: Oscar "Scrappy" Rodriguez, 15, and Salvador "Chuco" Rodriguez, 21.

Oscar is 5-foot-9, 140 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. Salvador is 5-foot-7, 150 pounds, has brown eyes and brown hair, and also has a prominent neck tattoo.

One of them may be suffering from a gunshot wound. They should be considered armed and dangerous.

Tips should be directed to the Lynden Police Department at 360-354-2828.

An autopsy performed Wednesday morning revealed Jesse Winchester had been shot in the chest and the arm with a large-caliber handgun, said Whatcom County Medical Examiner Gary Goldfolgel. He died from blood loss and collapsed lungs.

His death is considered a homicide.

Police have spoken to several witnesses who were at the house Tuesday night, said Lynden Police Chief Jack Foster. A handgun was recovered at the scene, but Foster could not say if it was the handgun used by the shooter, although ballistics tests may be able to confirm that.

Police believe whoever fired the shots fled the scene in a vehicle. Because it was dark, police have been unable to get a description of the vehicle, said Deputy Chief John Billester.

As many as 10 people may have been in the house at the time of the shooting, Foster said.

Investigators were still establishing how the shooter knew the victims, Billester said. No information about a motive had been released as of Wednesday evening.

"My heart is breaking," said Noma Winchester, the mother of Jeremiah and grandmother of Jesse.

Jesse Winchester helped out each year with the Bellingham Scottish Highland Games. His grandfather, Glen Winchester, has served as director of the games and as president of the association that puts them on.

"He did a lot of the field work, he built fences and set up tents," said Peter Rolstad, another leader of the Bellingham Highland Games Association.

The past couple of years, Jesse had been in charge of much of the field setup for the games, including leading a crew of workers to get everything ready for events.

Jesse attended Squalicum High School and was captain of the wrestling team in 2007. He was named the team's outstanding wrestler his senior year, won the Graham Morin Memorial Award and the Jesse Jameson Courage award.

"He led our team the last two years and really kind of helped build up our program again through his leadership," Squalicum coach Mark Parrish said at the time.

Jeremiah Winchester has an extensive criminal record including convictions for forgery, prescription fraud, unlawful possession of a firearm, assault and unlawful imprisonment.

Salvador Rodriguez was arrested earlier this year for his alleged role in a Jan. 12 shooting on Texas Street in Bellingham. According to documents filed in Whatcom County Superior Court, Rodriguez, a member of the Bonsallo Locos Surenos gang, was at his Texas Street apartment when a car full of members of the rival Brown Pride Surenos gang drove up and began shooting.

Rodriguez returned fire, according to the documents. No one was injured in the shooting.

His trial in that case had been set for Dec. 5.

Classes at Lynden High School were held as scheduled Wednesday.

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