Crime

Teen charged with Bellingham home-invasion; two suspects at large

A teenager was charged this week with an armed home invasion of a downtown Bellingham apartment. Two others involved remain at large.

Security footage shot at 1225 Railroad, the apartments above the downtown Starbucks, showed someone walk in through a security door, followed by a man who grabbed the door as it was closing Saturday, Jan. 24, according to charging papers. The man stepped inside and hid in a corner. Charges state he waited for “several minutes” before reopening the door to let two other men inside.

Upstairs, the resident of a third-story apartment had his girlfriend and a friend over for a visit. The girlfriend, 20, answered a knock at the door around noon to find three men dressed in black, wearing masks, according to the charges. One of the men aimed a gun at her.

“This is not a joke,” he said.

The woman squatted and put her hands behind her back. A young man later identified as Datyous E. Mahmoudian, 19, and a second intruder went to another room and aimed guns at the resident, 23, and his friend, 24, according to the charges. The intruders tackled the men, kicked them and pistol-whipped them. The 23-year-old resident fought back with a collapsible baton, distracting the intruder in the kitchen and giving the woman a chance to run outside. She banged on doors and screamed for help.

The 24-year-old man told officers the men pointed a gun at him again, so he got down on his stomach. He felt the barrel of a gun on his back. He saw his friend wrestling with Mahmoudian, according to the charges. Once one of the intruders stopped restraining him, he got up to call 911. He said one of the armed men came up to him, but he put him in a headlock. Another intruder punched him in the face before the men fled the apartment.

Three men in neighboring units heard the woman’s screams and came out into the hallway to help. They saw hooded men running toward the exit. They tackled and restrained Mahmoudian, who tried to reach into his pocket, according to the charges. One of the men got to his pocket first, and pulled out a handgun. Mahmoudian had on a backpack that was empty, except for a roll of duct tape. He’d taped over the tread of his shoes.

Officers called in police dogs and a U.S. border helicopter but could not find the other two suspects. Police have since released blurry photos from security footage, in hopes someone will recognize the men.

Back in the apartment, officers found fresh blood and a discarded zip tie, along with “multiple high-value items”: mason jars and freezer bags full of marijuana; almost $5,000 in cash hidden around the apartment; and “ornate glassware fashioned into marijuana smoking devices” valued around $2,000.

The 23-year-old resident needed stitches for deep cuts to his forehead. He had injuries to his back from being kicked.

Mahmoudian, a graduate of Squalicum High School in 2014, has been charged with six crimes: burglary in the first degree, three counts of assault in the second degree, attempted kidnapping in the first degree and attempted robbery in the first degree. Superior Court Commissioner Martha Gross set his bail at $300,000. He was in Whatcom County Jail as of Friday.

If you have any information that could help detectives, call the Bellingham Police Department tip line at 360-778-8611.

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