Crime

Man shot to death north of Nugents Corner

Whatcom County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Sean Crisp talks to support officer Kendra Cristelli while investigating a shooting in the 6300 block of Siper Road on Friday, June 26.
Whatcom County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Sean Crisp talks to support officer Kendra Cristelli while investigating a shooting in the 6300 block of Siper Road on Friday, June 26. The Bellingham Herald

A man was shot to death after an argument and a brief struggle over a rifle in the late afternoon Friday, June 26, at a rural home south of Everson, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

Detectives were investigating if the shooting was in self-defense.

The man, identified as Jonathan Larson, 43, who does not have a permanent address, had been walking north on Siper Road, north of Nugents Corner, a bit before 4 p.m.

One witness, Taylor Kooi, said the man — shirtless, in shorts and high white socks — weaved back and forth between the fog lines, with his arms outstretched. Sometimes he swung his fists up and down. Sometimes his arms were spread out like an airplane.

“You know when you’re walking on a balance beam, trying to stay (upright)?” she said, reenacting how he walked. “I thought: drunk, mental, or drugs.”

Or perhaps heat exhaustion on the almost 90-degree day, her family members suggested. So Kooi dialed 911 to get someone to come out and check on him, to at least get him a bottle of water. They lost sight of him.

Sheriff’s deputies scanned the neighborhood but couldn’t find him either, said Chief Criminal Deputy Doug Chadwick.

Then around 4:15 p.m. a man called police dispatch saying he’d shot a man in the chest outside his home, 6374 Siper Road. He ran back outside and performed CPR on Larson. But he could not save him. Larson died at the scene from a single gunshot wound.

Sheriff’s deputies interviewed the 34-year-old resident. He told them that Larson, who had been legally barred from the property due to past issues, came up to the house and got into a confrontation with another person outside. The 34-year-old man got into argument with Larson, too, and armed himself with an SKS-style rifle, Chadwick said. At gunpoint he ordered Larson to leave.

According to the shooter’s story, there was a struggle over the rifle, and during that struggle, he fired once. The fatal shot hit Larson in the upper torso, Chadwick said.

The resident was detained while deputies investigated. He was being cooperative, Chadwick said, and had not placed under arrest as of Friday evening.

A second person had been inside the house and did not witness much of the confrontation, according to the sheriff’s office. Sheriff’s deputies continued to speak with neighbors and to document evidence in the yard late into Friday night.

Police from Everson and Bellingham also responded to help.

The home is owned by a man with the same last name as Larson.

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Read the Dispatcher blog at bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher-blog and follow him on Twitter at @bhamcaleb.

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