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Whatcom County Sheriff's Office vehicle (February 16, 2017). Photo: My Ferndale News

Ferndale home invasion thwarted by armed homeowner

All the suspects are behind bars and a Ferndale homeowner uninjured after 4 men entered his home and sprayed him with pepper spray.

Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said in a news release that the victim reported someone knocked on his front door before the suspects let themselves in the unlocked door of the house in the 4000 block of Elder Road Tuesday, February 14th about 11am. When confronted by the 19-year old occupant of the house, one of the suspects sprayed him with pepper spray.

The suspects were reported to have been wearing bandanas and masks which covered their faces and one had a knife.

The victim got a rifle and, when the they saw him with it, all the suspects fled the house. 3 got in a green “Honda-type” car and another fled on foot. The victim fired two rounds at the car as it was leaving in an attempt to disable it according to the news release.

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Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office deputies converged on the area and soon after located a green Honda near Olson Road and Unick Road. The car was disabled and one bullet hole could be seen. Three males near the car were detained and subsequently arrested.

The fourth suspect who had fled on foot was located about a half-mile away near Elder Road and Walltine Road. Further investigation determined that suspect had broke into another residence in the 5000 block of Elder Road and stole clothing and a bicycle. He was found with those items and arrested.

All four suspects were booked into Whatcom County Jail. They were identified as, according to the news release,

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  • Benjamin W. Morvee, age 25, Ferndale
  • Jose L. Romero, age 20, Bellingham
  • Ivan Sanchez-Arce, age 29, Burlington
  • Alex P. Vilarreal, age 19, Bellingham

All four have been charged with 1st degree burglary. Villarreal was also charged with residential burglary and Morvee with 2nd degree assault. As of Thursday evening, jail records show all 4 remain in custody at the Whatcom County Jail.

The investigation is continuing to determine a motive for the crime according to the news release.

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