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Man arrested on armed robbery charge following slow-speed pursuit from Bellingham to Ferndale

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — About 1:30am, Friday, March 18th, a Bellingham Police Department officer reported attempting to conduct a traffic stop on a vehicle on Bellis Fair Parkway but, instead of pulling over, the vehicle drove on to northbound I-5 from Meridian Street. The BPD officer did not engage in a pursuit but followed while maintaining visual contact.

According to law enforcement radio transmissions at the time, the vehicle was then reported to have exited and then reentered I-5, now southbound, at the Slater Road interchange. It then exited at the W Bakerview Road interchange, headed south on Bennett Drive to Marine Drive and then west on Marine Drive. By this time, Washington State Patrol and Lummi Nation Police were advised of the situation.

Law enforcement continued to follow the vehicle as it headed north on Ferndale Road from Marine Drive, and west on Slater Road to Haxton Way. A Lummi Nation Police officer was reported to have successfully deployed a spike strip. The vehicle was then reported west on Slater Road and then north on Imhof Road. A Ferndale Police Department officer was reported to have successfully deployed a spike strip at the intersection of Imhof and Ulrich Roads. It was later determined a private vehicle ahead of the suspect vehicle had run over the spike strip.

About 2am, the vehicle, with at least 1 shredded tire, stopped on Douglas Road in Ferndale and the driver fled on foot while the passenger was detained by officers at the scene. Shortly after, the driver was located nearby and taken into custody.

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Jail records show Manuel Morado, age 22, was arrested and booked by Ferndale Police into the Whatcom County Jail about 5am and charged with suspicion of illegal possession of a firearm and possession of a stolen firearm. He pled guilty in adult Whatcom County Superior Court to a charge of felony 2nd degree robbery while a juvenile in 2017. As a convicted felon, he is unable to legally possess a weapon.

The driver, identified as Jimmy Raymond Abitia, age 27, was also arrested and booked into the jail by Ferndale Police about 6am and charged with suspicion of 1st degree robbery. Superior Court records indicate an arrest warrant for Abitia was issued on March 16th after probable cause for his arrest had been established due to an armed robbery incident.

In that incident and according to interviews by investigators, the victim had been driving around Ferndale with a member of Abitia’s family when Abitia got into the backseat of the car and instructed the victim to drive to VanderYacht Park. Upon arriving, Abitia pointed a handgun and ordered the victim to give him everything including the car’s keys. When victim asked Abitia if he was joking, he responded by firing the gun into the floor of the car. The victim handed over a wallet and the keys and fled on foot while the 2 people drove off in the car.

Subsequent electronic transactions were recorded using the victim’s accounts. The victim identified Abitia from social media profile photos.

The charges tied to the arrest warrant include suspicion of 1st degree robbery, 1st degree unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, theft of a motor vehicle and 2nd degree theft.

Abitia is also 1 of 2 witnesses Ferndale Police said they were seeking information about regarding a fatal shooting on January 23rd in Ferndale.

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In 2020, Abitia pled guilty to a felony charge of delivery of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) and had a charge of 2nd assault with a deadline weapon dropped in a plea deal and received a sentence of 25 months in custody and 12 months of community custody. At that time, his criminal history since 2011 included felony convictions of malicious mischief, assault, possession of a controlled substance, theft and bail jumping. After he failed to comply with all the conditions of the sentencing, he received an additional 10 months in custody.

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One Comment

  1. Dennis March 18, 2022

    Let’s see, how many strikes is that? How about a follow-up article on how the courts deal with these guys.

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