A man shot to death in Sumas by a U.S. Border Patrol agent was identified Friday, March 20, as a 20-year-old Canadian wanted for murder.
A tripped sensor alerted Border Patrol that someone crossed the border into the United States on Thursday afternoon, March 19, near Sumas. Two agents confronted a man, later identified as Jamison Edward Childress, on Kneuman Road, about 600 feet south of the U.S.-Canadian border, said Dan M. Harris Jr., chief of the Border Patrol’s Blaine sector.
“The subject,” Harris said, “displayed erratic and threatening behavior toward two agents who had responded.”
Childress disobeyed agents’ orders to stop, Harris said, and sprayed one of them with an “unknown incapacitating spray” — something like pepper spray, though the exact chemical needed to be tested. The agent then shot Childress with his service-issued firearm near Arthur’s Way.
Childress died from a single gunshot wound to the head, said Whatcom County Medical Examiner Gary Goldfogel.
Both agents have been put on administrative leave, a standard procedure after a shooting. Neither agent suffered serious injuries. The agent who shot Childress received medical treatment for being sprayed with the irritant.
Childress had been carrying a backpack with a hatchet inside. He did not take the hatchet out during the confrontation. He did not have a gun, Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said.
Both agents had more than a decade of service, Harris said.
In a press conference Friday morning at a U.S. Border Patrol station in Sumas, Elfo said the man had been wanted for murder in “another jurisdiction.” At that time he did not identify Childress by name, and he did not say where or when the homicide occurred.
U.S. border officials and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Alberta would not confirm if Childress, a Canadian with ties to the Calgary area, had been linked to the homicide of Brando Walker, 18, of Alberta. Walker’s body was found partially burned along the Elbow River on March 7.
On Friday friends of Walker flooded his Facebook page with news articles about Childress’ death, with messages saying, “Justice is being served !!” and “praise be to God !!!! #justiceforbrando.” The RCMP confirmed they were investigating the homicide, alongside Tsuu T’ina Nation police, but would not say if Childress was a suspect.
Childress had been charged with malicious mischief and assault in fall 2013 in Prince George, B.C., and he was scheduled to be in a Prince George courtroom Friday. He’d also been charged with theft and possession of stolen property in September 2014 in Fraser Lake, B.C.
The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office is leading a multi-agency team investigating the shooting. At the press conference, Elfo said declined to go into specifics about the confrontation itself.
“Our investigation into that is still continuing. We’re still interviewing witnesses, we’re still putting together pieces of physical evidence, and we haven’t drawn any firm conclusions,” Elfo said. “But it is very apparent that this person was erratic and aggressively approached the agent.
“There’s people crossing that international border to bring crime and violence to our community all the time,” Elfo added. “You can talk to any of the folks that live up on that international border. They can tell you how dangerous that is.”
Michael Kipling, 19, a resident of Kneuman Road, said border agents go up and down the street every half-hour or so. He said he heard three gunshots while he stood in his kitchen Thursday afternoon.
“The gunshots were really close, consecutive,” he said. “Sounded like a handgun.”
The aftermath felt surreal, Kipling said. Authorities blocked the entire length of the 3/4-mile road late into the night.
“It’s weird, you know, with all the stuff that’s been going on with law enforcement,” he said. “That kind of a thing is something that happens in bigger cities, with a lot of people, and a lot of officers.”
Chief Harris said the hours following the shooting have been long and difficult.
“As you all know, shooting is a very traumatic event for any law enforcement officer,” he said. “Taking a human being’s life is the last thing we ever want to do.”