Drive-by shooting, car chase end in arrest of Bellingham men

Two Bellingham men with gang ties were arrested after a drive-by shooting on Lummi Reservation this past weekend, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s deputies allege Eric Joseph Miranda, 20, fired about a half-dozen rounds from a rifle early Sunday, June 26, as he sat in a blue Volvo on the 2600 block of Haxton Way.

A man in the area jumped into his car when he heard the shots shortly after midnight. Bullets hit his brother’s parked BMW, about a car’s length away, but the man wasn’t hurt.

He got out of the car and saw a gunman in a plaid shirt yelling at him, according to a probable cause statement read in court Monday. The man escaped by jumping a fence, as the shooter kept aiming at him, he reported. The man and his brother hopped into separate cars and chased the 2004 Volvo S80 through the reservation, according to the sheriff’s office.

At one point the brothers boxed in the suspects’ car, but the Volvo driver rammed one of their cars and sped off, they reported. Eventually the brothers blocked the Volvo again on the 3400 block of Lummi Shore Road, about four miles from the scene of the shooting.

Lummi Nation police reached the scene and found five people in the Volvo. Everyone was detained. Sheriff’s deputies took jurisdiction once police found no one was a tribe member. A .22-caliber rifle was recovered along the route of the chase.

Two occupants of the Volvo identified Eric Miranda as the gunman, according to the prosecutor’s office. He faces charges of drive-by shooting, assault in the second degree, malicious mischief in the second degree, and unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree. He has felonies on his record for robbery and meth possession.

Deputies arrested his brother, Miguel Angel Miranda, 18, on suspicion of driving the Volvo. He is accused of complicity to commit a drive-by shooting and assault in the second degree.

At the Miranda brothers’ first appearance in court Monday, deputy prosecutor Brandon Waldron said the alleged victims reported that during the car chase a man emerged through the sunroof holding the rifle “menacingly” before throwing it to the roadside.

Mark Kaiman, a defense attorney for Miguel Miranda, said the statements by the prosecutor were “a little sketchy.” He declined to comment further on the facts Monday in court.

“Certainly, a lot of this is going to come up later on down the line – the factual circumstances here,” Kaiman said. “But we’re not worried about arguing that today.”

His client, he said, just graduated from Squalicum High School with scholarships to Whatcom Community College. Superior Court Commissioner Alfred Heydrich set bail for Miguel Miranda at $100,000.

Bail for his brother Eric, a berry farm worker, was set at $150,000.

A motive for the shooting remains under investigation. According to the sheriff’s office, both of the Miranda brothers have gang ties.

Eric Miranda had been charged March 1 in a felony case where gang-related graffiti tags were found on apartments and businesses in Bellingham. Prosecutors allege security footage showed Miranda in a gold Honda, picking up a man and a woman just after they tagged a building at Yew and Alabama streets.

In charging papers, Eric Miranda is identified as a “founding member of Sunset Crew” and a Southside Toker Sureno gang member.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb