April 20, 2024 1:23 pm

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A look back at 2023: Public Safety stories

To continue with the Lynnwood Times’ Year in Review series, the Lynnwood Times is highlighting the top 2023 public safety stories. There were a lot of new faces leading law enforcement in 2023, the passage of a gun control ban, a special session to address the “Blake Fix,” record car thefts throughout the state, and sadly, record deaths and overdoses due to fentanyl and many murders throughout south Snohomish County.

Snohomish County welcomes new Sheriff, Susanna Johnson

Susanna Johnson beat out incumbent Adam Fortney as Snohomish County’s newest Sheriff during this year’s General Election held in November. Johnson comes from Deputy Chief of the Bothell Police Department, where she has served for the last two years. Before that she has worked for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office for 30 years, beginning her dream career in law enforcement at the age of 22.

Susanna is a decorated graduate of the FBI National Academy, which is the most sought-after executive law enforcement leadership training in the world, and also worked her way through college to earn a master’s degree. When she’s not laying down the law she enjoys camping, hiking, gardening, walking her dogs, and spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

Mill Creek announces new Deputy Director of Public Safety

After a nationwide search, Police Chief Stan White announced back in March the selection of retired Seattle Police Sergeant Eric Chartrand as the Deputy Director of Public Safety for the Mill Creek Police Department.

Deputy Director Chartrand has nearly 30 years of police experience, which included assignments in Patrol, Anti-Crime, Federal Task Force member, K9 Commander, Intelligence, and Homicide Investigations. Chartrand has been assigned to multiple supervisory roles since 2007 and has extensive leadership experience that will serve Mill Creek well as its Deputy Director of Public Safety.

More than $60 million for Washington to combat fentanyl epidemic

Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced on Wednesday, September 7, that more than $60 million to combat the fentanyl epidemic is coming to Washington counties and cities. These resources are a result of Ferguson’s investigation into Walmart for its role fueling the opioid epidemic as a pharmacy. All eligible local governments signed onto the Attorney General’s $62.6 million resolution. The resources will be split equally between the state and local jurisdictions across the state.

This resolution is part of the $1.1 billion the Attorney General’s Office has recovered from 11 companies that fueled the opioid epidemic. Under the terms of the legally binding resolution, these resources must be used to combat the opioid epidemic, including fentanyl.

Lynnwood holds roundtable on homelessness and drug addiction

The City of Lynnwood held a roundtable discussion on homelessness, mental health, and drug addiction Wednesday, June 22, featuring the Lynnwood City Council, Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell, and behavioral and treatment specialists working with the Lynnwood Police Department, South County Fire, Verdant Health, Compass Health, Volunteers of America, and several city and county programs.

Inslee holds one-day Special Session to pass Blake Fix laws

Hours after Snohomish County led the state in proposing an ordinance to recriminalize illegal drugs after the failure of legislature’s passage of the “Blake fix,” Governor Jay Inslee announced that he would call a special session that began on May 16 – focused on passing a new drug possession law.

The so-called “Blake fix” was the only remaining must-do item legislators didn’t finish during the regular legislative session that ended on April 23. In 2021, the Washington Supreme Court overturned the state’s felony drug possession law. Legislators adopted a temporary misdemeanor policy that expires on July 1. The Black fix legislation, SB5536, passed during the one-day Special Session with Senate voting 43-6 and 83-13 in the House (with two excused).

Cole Langdon sworn in as next Police Chief for Lynnwood

Cole Langdon was sworn in as Chief of the Lynnwood Police Department by Mayor Christine Frizzell on Tuesday, August 8, at City Hall.

The vote to confirm Langdon at its Business Meeting on July 24 succeeded with six council members in favor with Councilman Josh Binda abstaining stating he is confident in the then-Deputy Police Chief’s qualifications to be police chief, but cited concerns about the process — believing external candidates should have been considered.

Langdon is the first Lynnwood resident since 1972 to hold the office and the first to have worked in every rank of the force. He replaces Jim Nelson who was appointed in 2020.

Lynnwood Alano Club recovery center forced to relocate when needed most

For 26 years the Lynnwood Alano Club has offered a safe space for those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction but now they’re being forced to move in a time the city needs their services the most.

Glen Cunningham, President of the Lynnwood Alano Club, informed the Lynnwood Times he was notified by the property owner, Echelbarger Properties Inc., the building is going up for sale.

Lynnwood Alano Club (LAC) is located in the middle of the Lynnwood City Center redevelopment spurred by the pending opening of the Lynnwood light rail station opening in 2024.  Properties adjacent to, and surrounding, the LAC have been identified as necessary for new roadway and other construction now being developed or planned. The non-profit has already commenced their search for a new building but are striking out on affordable options.

Nic’s Barbershop holds annual Cuts of Cops event

Mukilteo Police partnered with Nic’s Barbershop on Saturday, November 18, to raise money for Prostate Cancer Research with its annual “Cuts with Cops” event.

From 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., community members could get a haircut from a member of the Mukilteo Police Department. During the event, Nic’s staff supervised officers as they made the first few trims for customers before passing the clippers to a professional who’d finish the job.

Tacoma Officers found not guilty of Manuel Ellis in-custody death

A jury found three Tacoma officers – Christopher Burbank, Matthew Collins, and Timothy Rankine – not guilty of all charges in the nearly four year-long case involving the death of 33-year-old Manuel “Manny” Ellis, a black man who died in-custody in 2020.

The officers were being tried for unlawfully using deadly force after allegedly stopping Ellis for attempting to open car doors of occupied vehicles back in March of 2020. The attempted arrest led to a physical altercation, according to police, resulting in tackling him to the ground and restraining him. Part of the arrest was recorded by a witness who testified in court Thursday and Ellis could be heard on police radio saying he couldn’t breathe.

Indian Americans being targeted by organized criminals

Over the past two weeks, the Sheriff’s Office has seen an increase in residential burglaries primarily targeting Indian American victims. The burglaries have occurred during daytime hours in unincorporated Bothell, along 35th Ave SE between 180th St SE and 228th St SE.

The suspects are believed to be part of a larger organized group that operates throughout the region and associated with a black early-2000s Mercedes sedan and a newer silver Mercedes SUV with unknown plates.

Couple charged in murder of 23-year-old Lynnwood woman

NBA G League basketball player Chance Comanche, 27, and his girlfriend Sakari Harnden, 19, have been charged with the murder of 23-year-old Lynnwood woman Marayna Rodgers after her remains were found in a Nevada desert, Las Vegas police said.

Their victim, Rodgers, who hailed from Lynnwood, had been reported missing since December 7. According to a press release by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police, Rodgers had made plans early that day to meet up with Harnden, who was to bring her boyfriend (Comanche) along—Rodgers had not been seen or heard from since. Detectives working on the case suspected foul play from early in the investigation and obtained evidence that led to the arrests of Harnden and Comanche for Rodgers’ kidnapping and disappearance.

Marysville man with 27 convictions, arrested for 2019 sexual assault

Rhyan Tyler Vasquez, 28, who was wanted on felony warrants for first-degree rape, kidnapping, and escape from community custody was apprehended on December 14 near the 3100 block of Pine Street in Seattle.

The operation occurred around 3:30 p.m. on Thursday and involved the Snohomish County Violent Offender Task Force (VOTF) with assistance from the Everett Police Department’s Anti-Crime Team (ACT) and Violent Crime Unit (VCU).

Automated traffic cameras coming to Old Town Mukilteo

The Mukilteo City Council approved the installation of automated traffic cameras during their meeting on December 4 after a public hearing, with many council members citing public safety as their primary concern.

The speed cameras are slated to be placed in three locations on SR 525/Mukilteo Speedway: Rosehill Community Center, Olympic View Middle School/Mukilteo Elementary School, and 92nd Street Park.

One person stabbed in head at Lynnwood apartment complex

A fight on Thanksgiving night led to one person being stabbed and K9 deployed to apprehend suspect. In the early morning of November 24, 2023, Lynnwood Police were dispatched to an incident on 176th Street SW at an apartment complex for two people in an altercation. Dispatch advised that one was bleeding and officers learned that a knife was involved and one party was stabbed in the head. Officers breached the apartment complex’s door in an attempt to locate the subject, containment was set up and a K9 track was initiated.

Mukilteo auto thefts on the rise, WA has second highest car theft rate nationwide

Mukilteo is on pace to surpass its 2022 number for auto thefts according to crime data from the Mukilteo Police Department.

The WASPC’s latest annual crime report, published late 2022, documents 36 auto thefts in Mukilteo during 2021 and 47 in 2022 — an increase of 30.6%. So far this year alone, 46 vehicles have been reported stolen as of November 12, 2023, according to crime data provided to the Lynnwood Times from the Mukilteo Police.

Second arrest made in drive-by shooting death of Kamiak student

Members of the Everett Police Department Anti-Crime Team (ACT) and Violent Crime Unit (VCU) arrested a second suspect, 19-year-old Victor E. Torres-Zuniga, in connection with the murder of a 15-year-old Kamiak High School student Bryan Tamya in last Friday’s drive-by shooting. 

Twenty-year-old Uriel A. Hernandez Martinez was arrested by ACT and VCU on the evening of September 9th.  The shooting is believed to have been in connection to a long-running feud between rival gang members.

String of dog killings sparks investigation by Sultan-based animal shelter

Pasado’s Safe Haven, a Sultan-based animal sanctuary and rescue organization, is teaming up with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to offer a $10,000 award for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for a string of dog killings in the Yakima Valley area.

Since March of 2023, a total of six deceased dogs have been found by law enforcement working with the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, all of which exhibited signs consistent with abuse and neglect. Pasado’s brought each of these dogs in for necropsies to determine the type and level of abuse these animals suffered in hopes of finding new leads.

One dead, two injured in Lynndale Park shooting

On September 4 at approximately 10 p.m., Snohomish County Deputies and Lynnwood Police responded to a 911 call of multiple shots fired at Lynndale Park near 189th Place and 72nd Avenue less than 600 feet from Lynndale Elementary School.

Upon arrival, law enforcement learned that five subjects were involved in a shooting, leaving one subject deceased and two others transported to nearby area hospitals with injuries. Detectives believe this was an isolated incident.

Man linked to seven overdoses in county jail found guilty of fentanyl possession

Back in May of last year, an inmate held in the Snohomish County Jail in Everett was accused of possessing fentanyl in a county jail, which led to the overdose, and subsequent hospitalization, of seven other inmates.

The inmate is being charged with possession of a controlled substance within a county facility and the case is currently under investigation. It has yet to be determined if the inmate smuggled in the drug or obtained the fentanyl within jail walls.

Registered sex offender arrested for First-degree Child Molestation

Registered sex offender Russell Eugene Wathen, 45, of Sultan was arrested on the evening of Wednesday, August 23, by Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office east county deputies for first-degree child molestation. Bail was set at $250,000 after his initial court appearance that Thursday.

Thousands of fentanyl pills off the street from Mountlake Terrace drug bust

Seattle Police Department Narcotics Detectives recovered over two thousand grams of fentanyl powder and fentanyl pills in a Mountlake Terrace residence on August 22.

SPD detectives in conjunction with federal partners at Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) completed a narcotics operation where they served two search warrants for residences involved in drug trafficking in the North King County and South Snohomish regions. 

Detectives connected these drug trafficking organizations to aiding the narcotics activity plaguing the Northgate and Lake City communities. 

Nine cars ablaze in early morning fire at Lynnwood apartment

An early morning fire on August 8, at Whispering Cedars Apartment Homes, located at 6501 208th Street Southwest in Lynnwood, set nine cars in the parking lot ablaze with damage costs reaching an estimated $200,000, South County Fire said.

Firefighters working with South County Fire responded to a call a little after 6:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, August 2. The fire was under control within 10 minutes before it could reach the nearby residential apartment building, leaving six cars significantly damaged and three with minor damages. There were no injuries, the fire department said.

Early morning drive-by shooting in Lynnwood sends three teens to hospital

A drive-by shooting in West Lynnwood sent three teens to the hospital and a bullet blasting through a nearby neighbor’s window Thursday morning, July 27.

The suspect fled the scene in a vehicle and the victims were transported to nearby hospitals for aid — two at Providence Medical Center and one at Harborview Medical Center.

Officers with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office responded to a drive-by shooting call around 3:50 a.m. Multiple residents in the area reported hearing gun shots and called 911. When officers arrived, they found three victims with gunshot wounds and two handguns at the scene. The Sheriff’s Department said they believe the incident to be gang-related.

Lynnwood Police deploy GPS-based pursuit technology, a first in Snohomish County

The Lynnwood Police Department (LPD) started using a new GPS-based pursuit technology called StarChase in April of 2023, to address the countless vehicles that frequently flee from officers.

Lynnwood Patrol Officers are often restricted from pursuing because of the crime, circumstances, or because a pursuit may create too much danger for the public. This technology gives LPD a resource to avoid pursuing – while still affording them the ability to track and apprehend the suspect.

Arrests made in Lynnwood Spruce Park Murders

On Tuesday, June 13, 2023, Lynnwood Police Department Detectives announced the arrest of three individuals in connection with the Spruce Park homicides that took place on July 14th, 2022.

That night, responding officers found two male victims—15-year-old Tidus Goodwin-Linville and 16-year-old Jesus Sanchez Jr.—with life-threatening gunshot wounds in Spruce Park at around 9:15 p.m. The victims were immediately transported to area hospitals where they later succumbed to their injuries.

Fentanyl smoke exposure sends two deputies to the hospital

Two Snohomish County Sheriff Deputies were transported to hospital after secondhand exposure to fentanyl smoke in a routine nuisance complaint check in May. 

Medics were called and transported both deputies to the hospital — one to Swedish Medical Center in Mill Creek and the other to Swedish in Edmonds. The fentanyl exposure to one of the deputies was more severe; however, both deputies were released from the hospital on Monday afternoon and ordered to return to full duty by their next shift. No Narcan was administered.

Dead woman discovered by Mill Creek Police responding to DV call

On May 25, 2023, at 10:08 a.m., Mill Creek Police officers responded to a domestic assault call in the 13600 block of 41st Avenue SE in Mill Creek. Officers arrived at the scene, and the reporting party, who stated he had assaulted his wife, was taken into custody without incident. Upon checking the house for other involved parties, officers discovered a deceased female.

Mukilteo “Turd Burglar” steals ceremonious go-kart, $1000 reward offered

A male, now called the “Mukilteo Turd Burglar,” dressed in all camouflage clothing, wearing gloves and a backpack, was seen stealing a ceremonious go-kart from Mukilteo’s Stollwerck Plumbing and Sewer on the evening of May 6. The go-kart was known around the community for its unique porcelain toilet, often featured during the city’s annual Mukilteo Lighthouse Parade.

Mass arrest in Washington of drug ring tied to Aryan prison gang

Twenty-seven people were indicted by a grand jury for drug trafficking, and many of those in the indictment are tied to the “Aryan Family,” a white supremacist prison gang, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown last year.

Twenty-four of the defendants have been arrested over the last five days in Washington and Arizona. The alleged leader of the drug trafficking organization, Jesse James Bailey, is also an influential member of the Aryan Family prison gang. Bailey is alleged to have trafficked huge amounts of fentanyl, methamphetamine, and other drugs in Washington, Idaho, and to Alaska. Bailey and many other defendants will have detention hearings in Tacoma on Monday.

In total, more than 1.9 million doses of fentanyl seized, and more than 225 guns and firearm parts were taken off the streets by this operation.

Alleged Washington child rapist captured by bounty hunters in Arizona

A man suspected of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in Pierce County, Washington, was found in Tucson, Arizona, Friday, March 10, after he failed to appear in court.

The suspect, 58-year-old Michael Barber, was arrested and charged in 2021 for two counts of raping a child in the second degree, rape in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree, and felony harassment. The incident happened at a park in Spanaway, near where the girl lived.

The day Everett stood still: Snohomish County Courthouse lockdown

The Snohomish County Courthouse entered lockdown around 1 p.m., December 12, 2022, after an armed suspect wearing a bulletproof vest entered the lobby. Roads around the seven-acre Snohomish County Administration Plaza were taped off and closed and there is was large multi-agency law enforcement presence that included the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Washington State Patrol Bomb Squad, Everett Police Department, and the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

The lockdown halted all county business including millions of dollars in real estate transactions and recordings, court hearings, the issuance of permits and processing of licenses.

Armed naked man holds up hostage in Gold Bar grocer

An armed naked man took a hostage and held up a Gold Bar supermarket, Tuesday, January 11. After three hours of negotiations with SWAT present the suspect  surrendered and is currently in custody at Snohomish County Jail. No harm was done to his hostage.

Police responded to an assault with a deadly weapon call at approximately 6:21 p.m. Tuesday, at Family Grocer located at 1111 Croft Avenue, and requested a negotiator and SWAT shortly after. At that time Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the suspect had taken a hostage in the Gold Bar store and was armed. The suspect was described as a 55-year-old male.

Mill Creek DV stabbing leaves woman in life-threatening condition

Officers with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office responded to an assault with a deadly weapon call January, later it was determined a stabbing, at approximately 9:30 a.m., in the 1700 block of Bothell Everett Highway in Mill Creek.

By the time officers arrived, the suspect had barricaded himself inside the apartment and refused to cooperate. SWAT arrived on scene and began negotiations for several hours.

Members of the SWAT team entered the residence around 2 p.m. which, around that time, the 45-year-old male suspect surrendered.

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