BELLINGHAM, Wash. — First responders were dispatched to the area of E Myrtle Street and High Street at 11:59pm on Friday, October 28th, due to a report of an assault with a deadly weapon.
Responding Bellingham Police Department (BPD) officers were advised by radio several people had called 911 to report a victim had been shot in chest at a large gathering in a residence.
It was initially reported CPR was in progress and that the victim was later declared deceased at the scene.
Other BPD officers reported seeing a vehicle matching a suspect vehicle description. It was eventually found abandoned in the area of Alabama Street and Undine Street about 12:30am.
BPD K9 units began tracking in the area and by 2:30am BPD officers were booking a subject into Whatcom County Jail charged with suspicion of
2nd- 1st-degree murder and unlawful possession of a firearm.
The subject was identified in jail records as Brian Andy Pantoja, age 22.
Pantoja has a prior felony conviction in Whatcom County Superior Court for 2nd-degree robbery with a deadly weapon in 2020. As a result, he is not able to lawfully possess a firearm.
BPD Lieutenant Claudia Murphy sent the following incident narrative to Whatcom News about 1pm on Saturday.
Brian A. Pantoja, 22, Bellingham and the 21-year-old victim were at the same Halloween party in the 500 block of E. Myrtle Street on October 28, 2022, when an altercation between them ensued. This altercation led to Pantoja shooting the victim in the chest and fleeing the scene. Despite lifesaving attempts by witnesses and arriving Bellingham Police Officers, the victim died of his injuries at the scene. Pantoja was apprehended several hours later and booked for murder first degree and unlawful possession of a firearm.
At approximately 11:59 p.m. on October 28, Bellingham Police Officers responded to the 500 block of E. Myrtle Street for gunfire, and someone shot. They found the 21-year-old victim inside the doorway with a gunshot wound to the torso. Witnesses were already performing CPR, and arriving officers continued lifesaving measures until the Bellingham Fire Department (BFD) Medics arrived. The victim died of his injures at scene. Pantoja and his friends fled the area.
Officers had a good description of Pantoja and immediately began looking for him. Pantoja was linked to a white Dodge Charger, which officers recognized was involved in a hit and run collision earlier in the night. Officers returned to the scene of the hit and run, where the Dodge Charger was last seen, and found the Dodge Charger leaving the area. By the time the officer turned his patrol car around, the Dodge fled.
BPD Officers, with the assistance of deputies of the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, continued their search of city, eventually locating the Dodge Charger in a parking lot in the 1900 block of Alabama Street. BPD K-9s Destro and Prowl were both called into service to track away from the Dodge. They were able to isolate a particular apartment.
BPD officers watched the apartment and eventually Pantoja walked out to a waiting car. He was taken into custody without incident and booked into the Whatcom County Jail for murder first degree and unlawful possession of a firearm. Pantoja is a convicted felon for robbery second degree and not permitted to have a firearm.
BPD Detective Division and Crime Scene Investigators continue their work on this homicide and are asking anyone with additional information to contact BPD using one of the following ways:
Email tip line – www.cob.org/tips
Phone tip line – 360-778-8611 Bellingham Police Department Lieutenant Claudia Murphy (October 29, 2022)