The hidden entrance through the laboratory floor to an underground bunker at a property on Burn Road found last year. (U.S. Attorney’s Office)

The hidden entrance through the laboratory floor to an underground bunker at a property on Burn Road found last year. (U.S. Attorney’s Office)

Arlington-area man sentenced to over 3 years for gun stash, bunker

While investigators searched James Bowden’s property, they found guns. Then they discovered a removable floor panel.

SEATTLE — An Arlington-area man was sentenced Friday to 3½ years in federal prison after he was found with an illegal arsenal of guns and explosives in his underground bunker.

In November of last year, James Bowden confronted a man in a car in the 19300 block of Burn Road, according to court documents. They argued. The suspect reportedly said he was going to shoot the man in the car if he didn’t leave.

The driver pleaded with the homeowner to put the gun down. That only further agitated Bowden, prosecutors alleged.

Bowden, now 42, then raised his gun and shot one round through the car’s windshield, hitting the driver’s hand. Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies later found a bullet hole in the windshield and bullet fragments in the car, according to court papers.

“Leave before I put one in your head,” Bowden reportedly said.

The wounded man drove to Cascade Valley Hospital for treatment. He had metallic debris in the soft tissue of his middle, ring and pinky fingers, X-rays found.

Federal investigators then went to search Bowden’s property on Burn Road. In a detached garage, they found a room set up like a laboratory, according to court documents. They discovered chemicals, equipment and documents used to manufacture homemade explosives. Preliminary testing of some substances there indicated they were explosives.

A photo shows shelves filled with chemicals, a gas mask and “the laboratory” written in neon green paint. Also painted is the phrase “51-50 4 Life,” seemingly referring to the cofe for someone who police think is a danger to themselves or others, often because of mental health issues.

Bomb technicians spent hours detonating the materials.

A removable panel in the lab floor revealed a ladder to an underground bunker. Inside, investigators found guns, ammo, grenades and other equipment.

Prior felony convictions prohibited Bowden from having such weapons. In 1999, he was convicted of theft and burglary in Skagit County.

In May, the defendant pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of machineguns and possession of a destructive device in U.S. District Court in Seattle. Federal prosecutors dropped three other charges.

Snohomish County prosecutors had also charged Bowden with second-degree assault for the shooting. But given the guilty plea in federal court, prosecutors here moved to dismiss those charges.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Bowden faced between 46 and 57 months in federal prison. Prosecutors pushed for the low end of that range. The defense requested just a year.

Bowden was an iron worker with a family before he got injured on the job and increasingly used drugs, he wrote to U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez. His addiction tore his family apart, but Bowden hopes to rebuild those ties after his release.

“Please see that I am an honest man who has been an Iron Worker for 20 years, an active participant in community, and a man who dearly loves his children,” Bowden wrote in his letter, “but most of all, a man that can learn from his folly and from having gone astray, that can further develop himself, and that is adamant to maintain his good sense, respect of safety, and respect for the law, even if hard times come again.”

Martinez sentenced Bowden to 42 months, below the guidelines, noting drugs likely played a role in Bowden’s crimes.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439;; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Ariel Garcia, 4, was last seen Wednesday morning in an apartment in the 4800 block of Vesper Dr. (Photo provided by Everett Police)
How to donate to the family of Ariel Garcia

Everett police believe the boy’s mother, Janet Garcia, stabbed him repeatedly and left his body in Pierce County.

A ribbon is cut during the Orange Line kick off event at the Lynnwood Transit Center on Saturday, March 30, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘A huge year for transit’: Swift Orange Line begins in Lynnwood

Elected officials, community members celebrate Snohomish County’s newest bus rapid transit line.

Bethany Teed, a certified peer counselor with Sunrise Services and experienced hairstylist, cuts the hair of Eli LeFevre during a resource fair at the Carnegie Resource Center on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Carnegie center is a one-stop shop for housing, work, health — and hope

The resource center in downtown Everett connects people to more than 50 social service programs.

Everett mall renderings from Brixton Capital. (Photo provided by the City of Everett)
Topgolf at the Everett Mall? Mayor’s hint still unconfirmed

After Cassie Franklin’s annual address, rumors circled about what “top” entertainment tenant could be landing at Everett Mall.

1 dead in crash near Lynnwood following police pursuit

Deputies said they were pursuing a man, 37, south on Highway 525 when he swerved into northbound lanes and drove the wrong way.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

People walk along the waterfront in front of South Fork Bakery at the Port of Everett on Thursday, April 11, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Port of Everett inks deal with longtime Bothell restaurant

The port will break ground on two new buildings this summer. Slated for completion next year, Alexa’s Cafe will open in one of them.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

The Temple of Justice is shown Thursday, April 23, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)
WA high court: DUI breath tests valid, machine results not at fault

A state Supreme Court ruling reversed an earlier Kitsap County decision that found alcohol breath tests inadmissible as evidence.

People fill up various water jug and containers at the artesian well on 164th Street on Monday, April 2, 2018 in Lynnwood, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Washington will move to tougher limits on ‘forever chemicals’ in water

The federal EPA finalized the rules Wednesday. The state established a program targeting the hazardous chemicals in drinking water in 2021.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
US 2 to partially close late Friday near Lake Stevens

The state Department of Transportation will detour drivers during the 10-hour closure between Highway 9 and Highway 204.

Pat Clayton works on putting in electrical wiring at the new Helion headquarters on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett’s Helion eyes Central WA for groundbreaking energy venture

Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority commissioners approved a letter of intent with Helion on Tuesday.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.