Suspects’ quick paint job not enough to elude cops

NOOKSACK — A trio of robbery suspects from Everett headed north toward the Canadian border this past weekend, but ended their ride after leading Whatcom County sheriff’s deputies on a wild car chase near Sumas.

The alleged driver, Westley C. French, 22, outran the law for five more hours. French and his alleged accomplices used those fleeting moments of freedom to give his green Nissan 240 SX a new coat of black spray paint. But they neglected to swap out the car’s South Dakota plates when border agents found the car and the suspects outside of Nooksack Valley High School.

Their journey began in the early morning of hours of Saturday when French and two other men showed up at a home in the 3500 block of Lombard Avenue to steal back a recently sold pickup, Everett police spokesman Aaron Snell said.

They confronted the truck’s new owner, and at least one robber armed himself with a two-by-four, possibly a “weapon of opportunity” he found at the scene, Snell said.

The resident and his friend were beaten so badly they were hospitalized. Their injuries were not life-threatening, but police didn’t have an update on their condition.

After the robbery, Snell said, the men headed toward Canada and evidently ditched the pickup. Everett detectives still haven’t found it, but they have some leads, Snell added.

Exactly 24 hours later, French was driving the green Nissan with South Dakota plates on the outskirts of Nooksack. There, he saw a Whatcom County sheriff’s patrol car.

“He figured the gig was up,” Snell said.

So the Nissan sped off, leading the deputy on a high-speed pursuit through the darkness on the rural back roads of northern Whatcom County. French barreled through intersection after intersection without stopping, then found himself at a dead end, said Whatcom County Undersheriff Jeff Parks.

The driver whipped a 180-degree turn and tried to ram the deputy’s car head-on. The Nissan swerved out of the way at the last moment.

Thirteen minutes into the chase, the deputy lost sight of the car near Sumas.

Security footage showed French had made a stop at the Nooksack Market shortly before the chase. At daybreak, when border agents found the car parked at Nooksack Valley High School, French still had the same clothes on. And the Nissan still had the same out-of-state plates.

The car had been painted black, however, and two of the men were caught with black spray paint on their hands, according to the sheriff’s office.

Investigators aren’t sure if they planned to cross the border, or if they just “flirted with the idea,” Parks said.

Deputies arrested French — who allegedly gave a fake name and a fake date of birth — on suspicion of felony eluding, and on warrants for robbery and a prior burglary. He admitted to driving the Nissan the night before, Parks said.

At the time, sheriff’s deputies didn’t arrest the passengers, Richard Andrew Genn, 22, and Gregory Raymond Carson, 24. But Everett police developed probable cause for a first-degree robbery and took them into custody late Sunday. Genn and Carson, who both have a lengthy court history, are being held at Snohomish County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

For the eluding charge, French’s bail was set at $70,000 by Whatcom County Superior Court Commissioner Leon F. Henley Jr.

His arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 6. He’s awaiting formal charges in the robbery case.

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com.

More in Local News

District takes steps to secure school campuses

Safety measures have been enhanced at Hawthorne and Silver Firs elementary schools in Everett.

Hard work is paying off for Mariner High senior

Mey Ly has excelled in school since moving here from Cambodia; she also serves as an intrepreter.

County under flood watch; back-to-back storms promise heavy rain

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch Monday for… Continue reading

1 arrested after SWAT team moves in on Marysville house

The incident was connected to an earlier robbery.

Yes to turn signal — eventually

Adding a right-turn signal at 112th St. and 7th Ave. is turning out to be a bit more complicated.

Cleaning up after other people’s messes

Snohomish County program recycles derelict RVs abandoned on roadsides and in homeless encampments.

The Lake Washington view from the “Greatest Setting in College Football” is behind the sign that says it is so. The setting is lost in the blackness, so folks visiting from Salt Lake City to support their Utes last Saturday night had to take our word for it. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Huskies are a victim of their own success

They’re a favorite to feature on nighttime national broadcasts, meaning most games are in the dark.

No easy exit from Smokey Point shopping complex

There’s just no easy exit on this one. A reader called in… Continue reading

Most Read