A man shot and killed a woman moments after meeting her 11-year-old son at an apartment complex near Samish Way early Thursday, Aug. 20, according to prosecutors.
Raymond Hamilton Gilbert, 32, fired one shot at Debbie Christie, 49, and then ran from the scene around 1:22 a.m, said Whatcom County Prosecutor Dave McEachran. He turned himself into police a few hours later and was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder.
Paramedics arrived to find Christie dead on her deck at the Viking Village apartment complex on the 1000 block of Otis Street, McEachran said. She had one gunshot wound by her left eye.
The first person to find Christie dead was her 11-year-old son. Christie introduced her son to Gilbert moments before her death. The 11-year-old, however, went back in the apartment, and Christie stayed outside to talk to Gilbert on the deck, which faces a parking lot. About 30 seconds later, the child heard a pop. He went back outside and saw his mom bleeding from her head, McEachran said.
A neighbor looked out his window immediately after hearing the shot and saw Gilbert. The neighbor asked if he was knew what happened, to which Gilbert replied, “I just shot his grandma,” while gesturing toward the 11-year-old.
Police searched the area for Gilbert with the help of Washington State Patrol dogs, but they couldn’t find him until he turned himself in.
Barry Williamson, a friend of Gilbert’s who lives at the complex, told police that Gilbert texted him less than an hour after the shooting. The text read, “You will never have to worry about the bitch again, I promise,” according to the probable cause statement read in court.
Police said Gilbert and Christie were “acquaintances.” At Gilbert’s first appearance in court on Thursday, however, McEachran outlined some circumstances that suggest he and Williamson had been involved in prior disputes with Christie.
Gilbert frequently visited the apartment complex because Williamson lived there. Williamson and Christie, it seems, did not get along. She filed a no-contact order against Williamson, 36, in December 2014 after he reportedly threatened her. Williamson was then arrested in April for violating the no-contact order, a move that angered both him and Gilbert, McEachran said.
Police have not said why Gilbert was outside Christie’s apartment Thursday morning, and when Gilbert turned himself in he offered no explanation of what happened.
Gilbert also called his father and said he had done something foolish and admitted he had shot someone, the statement said.
Gilbert is listed as transient. He had been living on a boat in Whatcom County, and police found empty .32-caliber shell casings on the boat Thursday that matched the kind of gun likely used to shoot Christie, McEachran said. The gun has not yet been recovered.
Gilbert moved to Whatcom County recently from Florida, where he was once convicted of grand theft auto, McEachran said.
Gilbert had little criminal history in Whatcom County until recently. He was arrested less than a week ago when he and Williamson were found drinking alcohol and smoking inside the McDonald’s on Samish Way. He was released from Whatcom County Jail around midnight Aug. 18, little more than a day before the shooting.
Charges are anticipated to be filed against Gilbert for first-degree murder with a firearm in the next couple days. He is being held in Whatcom County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.
Reach Wilson Criscione at 360-756-2803 or firstname.lastname@example.org.