Ferndale robbers armed with bear spray get prison for motel room invasion

Images from security cameras show two robbery suspects on Jan. 14, 2016, at the Super 8 Motel in Ferndale.
Images from security cameras show two robbery suspects on Jan. 14, 2016, at the Super 8 Motel in Ferndale. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Two men must serve 3 ½ years in prison for an armed robbery at a Ferndale motel, a Whatcom County judge ruled this week.

Joshua Olin Studer, 26, and Riley Scott Casimir, 31, pleaded guilty to robbery in the second degree, residential burglary, and theft in the second degree Thursday, July 21.

A sleeping man and his girlfriend were awakened by knocking at the door around 5 a.m. Jan. 14, at a room of the Super 8 Motel at 5788 Barrett Road. The man looked through the peephole, saw a short man, and cracked the door — figuring it must be housekeeping, according to charging papers filed in Whatcom County Superior Court.

Then two men wearing dark clothes, gloves and beanies shoved the door open and forced the man, 46, back into the room. The shorter man shouted: “Give me all your money! Give me all your stuff!” as he threatened the couple with a can of bear spray. The victims replied that they didn’t have anything.

The taller man held something, about the size of a gun, wrapped in a towel, and the shorter man told him at one point they should “shoot these (expletives).” The robbers fled with bandanas covering their faces, in plain view of at least two witnesses.

Security footage caught the suspects walking down the hallway of the motel. The short man wore a Fox Racing emblem on his sweatshirt, and a red bandana tied around his neck. He used what looked like a key card to open the door into the motel. The tall man wore a hoodie under a zipped-up jacket, and a hat with a camouflage pattern.

A week later the City of Ferndale sent out an alert with images from the security footage, asking for the public’s help in identifying the robbers. A pawn shop worker recognized the tall man as Studer, from his face and his camouflage hat. He fled when police tried to speak with him on Jan. 21. Police tried again to contact him at his home on Feb. 11, and he jumped out a window. This time police caught him.

Through another tip police identified one of Studer’s friends, Casimir, as the shorter man — he is 5-foot-7. He was arrested the same day.

Both men have criminal records. Casimir, a self-employed fisherman on the Lummi Reservation, had been convicted of two felonies as an adult: second-degree theft and third-degree child molestation, according to court documents.

At a sentencing hearing for the robbery, his public defender, Angela Anderson, pointed out it’s still unclear whether a gun was used, and that one victim wasn’t sure if it was a gun or a knife wrapped in a towel.

Both men admitted to the same three charges on Thursday — though Studer’s theft conviction was linked to a $5,500 road bike, a Cervélo P3, stolen from a home in Birch Bay. Studer had done a flooring job at the home. He was caught trying to pawn the bike at a Bellingham pawn shop in September 2015.

A third case against Studer was dismissed in a plea deal: He had been accused of shoplifting a basket of things worth $65 from a Haggen store, after he had been banned from the grocery chain.

Neither man made a statement to the judge Thursday.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb