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

A wobbly calf grows into a 1,800-pound Lake Stevens behemoth

A shaggy and sometimes cranky bison is the last of his herd. He lives amid encroaching suburbia.

Elderly couple escape serious injuries in crash with train

The driver drove down tracks instead of a road, hitting a slow-moving train near Stanwood.

Officials ID man shot and killed in apparent Everett robbery

Police believe the victim may have known the shooter, who drove away before the officers arrived.

Man, 60, in critical condition after Bothell crash

Police believe the driver may have been speeding when he hit a rock wall.

Missing Marysville woman found safe out of state

A Marysville senior who was reported missing in March has… Continue reading

FBI operation arrests 3 linked to exploitation of 32 women

The sting focused on Everett and other cities in Snohomish, King, Pierce, Skagit and Spokane counties.

Front Porch

EVENTS Seahawks event postponed A Toys for Tots Blue Friday fundraiser that… Continue reading

Man arrested in Monroe Walmart robbery; second suspect flees

The pair fled in a stolen Mitsubishi Lancer with a distinctive green spray paint job.

Dead boy’s ‘gentle giant’ uncle helped search, then confessed

Andrew Henckel, 19, of Texas, said he planned the drowning of Dayvid Pakko, 6. His bail is $1 million.

Most Read