Crime

Police: Bellingham man armed with shotgun tried to murder wife’s new boyfriend

Police arrested a man on suspicion of trying to murder his estranged wife’s new boyfriend Saturday, Feb. 14, in north Bellingham.

Patrick Allen Leach, 42, drove his wife’s green Ford Aerostar to an apartment complex in the 3400 block of Northwest Avenue around 11 a.m. on Valentine’s Day armed with a stolen 12-gauge Benelli Nova pump shotgun, according to Bellingham police.

Leach’s wife, 40, who filed for divorce in December, walked down to the parking lot with her boyfriend, 34. She thought one of her sons was driving, since she’d left the van at his apartment in the Sehome neighborhood. Then they saw Leach open the door to get out. He reached back inside for a shotgun, in a soft carrying case, in the center console, said Lt. Bob Vander Yacht. So they ran up and tackled him.

“They made a really wise decision to do what they did,” Vander Yacht said.

Leach kept trying to reach for the trigger as they wrestled with him. They yelled to neighbors to dial 911, police said. A neighbor called for help at 11:07 a.m.

Once officers reached the scene they took the shotgun, still half-in, half-out of the scabbard, Vander Yacht said. It was loaded. The victims told police the gun’s safety had been off — they saw a small flash of red — during the struggle.

Leach was “very frank that he indeed intended to kill his wife’s new boyfriend,” according to police. He said he’d come up with the plan the night before. He stole the shotgun and two rounds of ammo from a family member Saturday morning northeast of Bellingham, police said.

Leach was booked into jail on suspicion of attempted murder in the first degree, domestic violence assault in the second degree and theft of a firearm. He’s not accused of stealing the van because legally it’s still shared property.

Leach and his wife separated in February of 2014, according to court records. The divorce papers outline a recent mental breakdown by Leach. Over the past year, his wife wrote, he’s been hospitalized at least three times for suicide attempts and severe depression.

In April 2014, one of Leach’s teenage children reported that he’d been acting obsessive, e.g., putting a tracking device on his wife’s phone, hacking into his wife’s Facebook page, frightening the family to the point that they changed the locks of their home. In court papers the child expressed concern about being around him: “Because if he all of (a) sudden flips and wants to hurt other people than himself.”

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