Alleged Whatcom gang member arrested for suspected role in drug deal and shooting

The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office located and arrested a 25-year-old suspected local gang member for his alleged role in a drug deal and shooting that occurred earlier this month near Marine Drive in Bellingham.

Jimmy Raymond Abita, 25, was booked into Whatcom County Jail Sunday, Sept. 22, on suspicion of first-degree assault, possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute and a Department of Corrections detainer. Chief Deputy Kevin Hester told The Bellingham Herald that Abita is a suspected local gang member.

Deputies booked Juan Earl Perez, 37, Sept. 11 on the same incident. He was booked on suspicion of possession of a stolen firearm, first-degree assault, second-degree illegal possession of a firearm, possession of a controlled substance and a Department of Corrections detainer. Jail records show Perez is being held in lieu of $75,000 bail.

According to Whatcom County Superior Court records filed Sept. 12 against Perez, at approximately 2:53 a.m. Sept. 7, a deputy stopped a car that was driving on its rim, and the driver said that he had been shot at and his tire was struck.

The driver said that he had arranged to purchase narcotics from Abita, and when the two met, Perez arrived with a handgun and confronted the driver, who attempted to drive away with Abita still in the vehicle, court documents state.

Abita started punching the driver in the head, and when the driver fought back, Abita exited the vehicle, court documents said. The driver then attempted to flee the area, but as he passed, Perez reportedly fired a single gunshot at the car, hitting the tire.

During their investigation, deputies found narcotics in the vehicle and a single .40 caliber shell casing at the scene of the shooting, court documents state.

After Perez was arrested on West Maplewood Avenue in Bellingham, deputies got a search warrant for Perez’s car and found a handgun and ammunition that matched the shell casing found at the scene, according to court documents. The gun had been reported stolen to the Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 28.

Deputies also located heroin and methamphetamine in the console of the car Perez was in, court records state, and a woman who also was in the car identified the drugs and gun as belonging to Perez.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.