Crime

Man dead after shootout with Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office

An armed man was shot and killed by police, and a SWAT team member was wounded, in a long standoff that turned into a shootout Sunday, Nov. 16, at a house northeast of Deming.

A neighbor had contacted a Whatcom County Sheriff’s deputy on Sunday to report Cecil Chaney Tinker-Smith, 37, of 5765 Mosquito Lake Road, had been shooting off rounds “in a dangerous manner, and doing it in a way meant to intimidate” the neighbor, said Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo.

Deputies researched the alleged shooter’s criminal record and found he had two active felony warrants — for missing court dates on charges of possessing methamphetamine and possessing LSD — and one felony conviction from 2006, after Bellingham police found he had about 7 ounces of marijuana in Mason jars in his backpack.

Law enforcement reached the home northeast of Deming around 2 p.m. Sunday to arrest Tinker-Smith for the warrants and for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Once they rolled up to the house, however, they saw him running into a building and heard what sounded like a single gunshot, Elfo said. It remained unclear Monday if a shot had been fired into the air or aimed at deputies.

The county sheriff’s SWAT team and a U.S. border helicopter were called to the scene around 3 p.m. Tinker-Smith barricaded himself inside the brown one-story home; deputies could not convince him to come out. A judge signed a search warrant allowing the deputies to force their way inside.

Tinker-Smith’s mother, Jeanne Teresa Tinker-Smith, 63, a listed owner of the home, came outside to speak with a negotiator, according to a press release from the sheriff’s office.

“However,” the statement reads, “she refused service of the warrant, obstructed deputies in the course of their duties and made false statements.”

Tinker-Smith’s mother was booked into jail late Sunday on suspicion of rendering criminal assistance in the second degree and making false statements to law enforcement.

Sometime in the evening, as deputies prepared to send a robot with a camera into the home, Tinker-Smith opened fire on the SWAT team, according to the sheriff’s office.

The team took cover. Tinker-Smith fired again, so the SWAT team shot back, according to the sheriff’s office. One SWAT team member suffered minor injuries in the gunfight from bullet fragments. He was treated at the scene, and later checked on at St. Joseph hospital.

Another SWAT team, from the Bellingham Police Department, and an armored truck from Ferndale were called in as backup.

Later officers swept the house and found Tinker-Smith dead, beside a rifle, according to the sheriff’s office. He had suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the head. The bullet came from an officer’s rifle, said Dr. Gary Goldfogel, the Whatcom County medical examiner.

Felony bench warrants had been issued for Tinker-Smith in early 2013, for the two separate drug charges. In one of those cases he’d been charged with obstructing law enforcement. Also, he was wanted by several jurisdictions — Lynden Municipal Court, Skagit County District Court and Whatcom County District Court — for violating court orders related to misdemeanor driving offenses.

Records suggest over the past decade Tinker-Smith had many brushes with the law, but none in the past year and a half.

Bellingham police is leading the investigation into the standoff and shootout.

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