Bellingham meat thief gets prison for robbery, gun theft

A screenshot showing Dason Christunas, 21, as he fled from a robbery of sandwiches and lunch meat at a Haggen store in Bellingham.
A screenshot showing Dason Christunas, 21, as he fled from a robbery of sandwiches and lunch meat at a Haggen store in Bellingham. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

A Bellingham man must serve two years in prison for threatening security guards with a collapsible baton while robbing a Haggen store and other crimes, a judge ruled this week.

Dason Joseph Christunas, 21, pleaded guilty to robbery in the second degree for getting violent as he shoplifted lunch meat and two sandwiches from the grocery store at 2814 Meridian St.

Security workers recognized him around 10 a.m. March 16 as someone from a shoplift that went unreported a few days earlier, according to charging papers. He walked out of the store with the food in his pockets, and two security workers tried to stop him. He resisted. They took him to the ground, but he squirmed to his feet.

Christunas took out a retractable baton from his coat. He cocked his arm back and threatened to harm the employees, according to the charges. He ran off with a sandwich and dropped a pocketknife as he fled.

A witness took cellphone video of the scuffle. Bellingham police posted a shot from the video on social media, and within a few hours Christunas was arrested at an apartment off C Street. Officers recovered the boots he’d been wearing in the photo, and an ASP-style baton.

At jail a sheriff’s deputy searched his backpack and found a metal spoon, a rubber arm band, a syringe and a dark-colored piece of heroin, about the size of an apple seed, according to court documents.

Days later charges were filed in another felony case. Christunas had been suspected in the theft of a .30-06 Winchester rifle that belonged to his girlfriend’s father. Receipts confirmed Christunas pawned the gun Dec. 4 in Bellingham. Other records showed he’d pawned the man’s stolen tools, too, over the preceding month: a chainsaw, a concrete saw and a grinder.

In that case Christunas pleaded guilty Thursday, May 19, to theft of a firearm and trafficking in stolen property in the first degree. Other charges were dismissed in the plea deal: three more counts of trafficking in stolen property, and drug possession in the robbery case.

At sentencing his public defender, Angela Anderson, gave a brief outline of Christunas’ local family ties and his work history.

“You can see that he went very sideways,” she said, “and part of that, I think, has to do with some drug use.”

Superior Court Judge Ira Uhrig sentenced him to two years in state prison.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb