Crime

Drugs, alcohol possibly involved in accidental shooting of Aaron Bornemann

Initial toxicology tests suggest drugs and alcohol might have been involved in the accidental shooting death of Aaron Bornemann on April 2.

Autopsy results showed Bornemann, 23, tested positive for alcohol and illegal drugs, said Whatcom County Medical Examiner Gary Goldfogel. More thorough lab tests are expected in six to eight weeks.

Aaron Bornemann is the son of Bellingham City Council member Terry Bornemann.

Bellingham Police have not said whether Masen Jon Potter, who has been charged with first-degree manslaughter in the shooting, was drinking or using drugs that night. Sgt. Mike Scanlon said investigators do not yet have official toxicology results on Potter, 21.

On Thursday night, April 2, Potter pointed a .22 caliber semi-automatic Ruger pistol at Bornemann’s head, believing the gun was unloaded, and fired, police said. Bornemann was declared dead from a gunshot wound to the head Friday morning, April 3.

Bornemann brought the handgun to Potter’s residence, 1241 Grant Street, around 6 p.m. the night of the shooting, according to charging papers filed in Whatcom County Superior Court. A roommate of Potter’s saw Bornemann take the clip out of the gun. The roommate then went to another room as Potter, Bornemann and another friend continued to play with the gun.

The three men dry-fired the weapon at various objects around the room. At some point, Potter and Bornemann went outside and smoked a cigarette, charges say. When they returned, Potter picked up the gun again and fired at Bornemann.

Police examined the pistol shortly after the shooting. The clip was loaded with 22 rounds and there was a live round in the chamber, according to court papers.

Potter admitted to police at the scene that he was the one who had shot Bornemann. Potter later told police he had experience with guns and was aware he shouldn’t have pointed the gun at a person.

Police have not said yet who owned the gun. In an email earlier this week, Scanlon said police “are still actively investigating the weapon and how it came to be there.”

Several follow-up phone calls from a reporter seeking basic details — such as who the gun is registered to and whether Potter had been given a breathalyzer test at the scene — were not returned.

Bornemann was involved in the Bellingham music scene and worked at a landscaping business during the day. He lived at his father’s home. In an interview the day his son died, Terry Bornemann said he was not aware if Aaron owned a gun.

Potter’s bail was initially set at $100,000, then reduced to $25,000. He posted bond and was released from jail Thursday, April 9. He is scheduled to appear in court for a hearing July 8.

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