Crime

Four arrested, charged with January home invasion in downtown Bellingham

Almost four months after a home-invasion robbery in downtown Bellingham, all four suspects have been arrested, according to police.

Around noon on a Saturday in late January security cameras recorded someone walking into an apartment complex at 1225 Railroad Ave., by the Starbucks in downtown Bellingham, according to charging papers filed in Whatcom County Superior Court.

A young man caught the swinging security door before it closed, then waited to let two other men inside. They went upstairs to the third story and knocked on the door — masked and dressed in all black.

The resident’s girlfriend, 20, answered the knock. The three men burst in and held the young woman, the resident, 23, and his friend, 24, at gunpoint. The robbers tried to restrain the woman with zip ties. She eventually broke free and, as the robbers fought with the two men, she ran outside screaming and pounding on neighbors’ doors.

Neighbors tackled one of the armed suspects, Datyous E. Mahmoudian, 20. Mahmoudian had a gun in his pocket and a backpack with only duct tape inside, according to the charges. He had taped over the tread of his shoes.

Inside the apartment police found fresh blood, a discarded zip tie, and valuables scattered around the apartment: Mason jars, plastic bags of marijuana, ornate smoking pipes, and $5,000 cash. The resident suffered deep cuts to his scalp that needed stitches, and he had been kicked in the back and torso.

In the months that followed police identified three other suspects: Daniel Joseph Neblic Weber, 20; Eddie Roy Thompson, 20; and a 17-year-old boy, Edgar Rivera.

Police interviewed Thompson, one of Mahmoudian’s friends who matched a suspect description, on Jan. 27. Conspicuously, they found he had no text messages in his phone from Jan. 18 to 26, although when they looked at his girlfriend’s phone, she had messages from him. In one of those texts he said he’d “screwed up” and needed to get out of the area.

He was arrested in April by city police in Clearlake, Calif., after they were tipped off by the U.S. Marshals Service. He’s in the process of being extradited to Washington.

Detectives also spoke with Weber, who knew the resident and knew he’d been dealing marijuana out of the Railroad Avenue apartment. That day, he told police, he drove Mahmoudian, Thompson and the 17-year-old boy to downtown Bellingham, but claimed he just dropped them off so they could buy marijuana. The three robbery suspects didn’t know the resident.

“Despite their face coverings, weapons, restraint devices, and dark garb, Weber insisted that he was unaware that Mahmoudian, Thompson, and Rivera intended to rob (the resident),” wrote Deputy Prosecutor James Hulbert.

Weber’s story changed a few times in the interview, according to charging papers. At one point he said he wasn’t aware of a police response — a huge response from more than 10 uniformed officers, a U.S. border helicopter and a K-9. Then he conceded that he saw police swarming the area, but said he thought it was because his friends had been busted for buying cannabis. He asked police if he could get money in exchange for information, according to the charges. Detectives declined.

Phone records showed that Weber and Mahmoudian called each other eight times in the half-hour before the robbery. Officers continued to build a case against Weber, and finally arrested him Tuesday, May 12, said Bellingham Police Sgt. Mike Scanlon. Like the other three young men, he has been charged with 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.

Officers arrested the 17-year-old Rivera this week, too, after a nationwide extradition warrant was issued in March. His mother had told officers he’d gone to Yakima or Sunnyside, according to the charges. Police found him hiding at her home in Bellingham, Scanlon said. Rivera, who turns 18 in November, has been charged as an adult.

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