Crime

Target of Valentine’s Day murder plot recalls attack at Bellingham apartment

On the morning of Feb. 14, Patrick Allen Leach sent a text to his estranged wife and her new boyfriend, Jon Hildebrand.

Something to the effect of: “Happy Valentine’s Day, have fun you guys,” Hildebrand recalled.

Followed by, “You (expletive) (expletive).”

“Not even five minutes later,” Hildebrand said, Leach had parked a green Ford Aerostar van outside 3422 Northwest Drive. Hildebrand and Stacey Leach, née Benoit, thought it might be her adult son returning the van. So they headed down to meet him.

Then they saw Patrick Leach, 42, pulling a Benelli Nova 12-gauge pump shotgun, encased in a soft scabbard, from the center console of the van.

According to Hildebrand:

Patrick said, “I’m here to kill Fatty.” (“I guess I’m Fatty,” Hildebrand told the reporter.)

Stacey, 40, jumped in front of Patrick and told him he wasn’t going to shoot Hildebrand. She grabbed the gun, still half-in the soft case, and forced the barrel into the air. Hildebrand ran up and helped to tackle Patrick to the ground. Patrick kept reaching for the gun. He headbutted Stacey. (“She’s OK, there was no blood or nothing,” Hildebrand said.) As they wrestled Patrick’s finger came inches from the trigger. Hildebrand managed to pry his hand back.

“He’s got a gun, he’s got a gun, and his finger is on the trigger!” shouted Hildebrand, 34, according to charging papers filed this week.

Police reached the scene in moments. By then Patrick seemed to give up, Hildebrand said. Officers pulled the Benelli away. The safety was off and it was loaded with two rounds of Remington birdshot, police said. Patrick was “very frank” with police that he wanted to kill Hildebrand. He told officers he’d come up with the plan the night before. In the morning he took the gun, ammo and a fifth of alcohol from his cousin on Starry Road.

The Leaches had been separated for about a year. Stacey filed for divorce in December. Hildebrand started dating her around then.

Then two weeks ago, Patrick sent his estranged wife a sexual text that Hildebrand thought wasn’t appropriate. So Hildebrand called him, introduced himself, explained he was dating Stacey Leach now, and asked him not to do that again.

“He just flipped,” Hildebrand said. “I mean, she’d told me in the past that the guy has some mental issues.”

Patrick sent death threats, about 35 of them, Hildebrand said. But Hildebrand didn’t think he’d actually do it. The night before the attack the Leaches got into a fight, Hildebrand said, at their son’s apartment in the Sehome neighborhood. Police were called, but no one was arrested.

Patrick has a history of mental problems. Divorce papers state he’d tried to kill himself several times in the past year. He’s charged with attempted murder in the first degree, domestic violence assault in the second degree and theft of a firearm.

Superior Court Commissioner Thomas Verge set bail at $1 million.

Click here to read a copy (PDF) of the charges against Patrick A. Leach.

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