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Man tracked to a Ferndale hotel found with body armor, weapons and Kevlar facemask

Broken glass and torn screen are visible from the parking lot after SWAT used tear gas to gain complaince from a man holed up in a Ferndale hotel (October 4, 2022). Photo: Whatcom News

FERNDALE, Wash. — Ferndale Police issued a statement today, October 6th, regarding Tuesday’s incident involving an “armed and dangerous man” who holed up in a room at a Ferndale hotel.

About 6:30am on Tuesday, the City of Ferndale issued the following statement.

Law enforcement is responding to a situation at the intersection of Barrett and Main Street. Please avoid the area if possible. More updates to come. City of Ferndale (October 4, 2022)

According to today’s statement, about 4:10am, a Ferndale Police officer attempted to stop a white Chevrolet Blazer on Main Street for making an illegal turn with no license plates and an unreadable temporary tag. The suspect pulled into a retail center parking lot.

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“When the officer approached the vehicle, the driver leaned out of his door and pointed an AR style rifle at the officer. The officer was able to quickly move to cover as the suspect then drove away,” according to the statement.

The suspect, identified as Kenneth Frank Velen, age 47 and of Corpus Christi, Texas, drove to a hotel on Barrett Road and parked by the front door. He reportedly walked in carrying body armor and a large duffel bag and went up to the second floor. Officers located the suspect’s vehicle and saw 3 rifles inside the car.

According to an affidavit of probable cause for arrest filed by prosecutors in the Whatcom County Superior Court, a perimeter was quickly set up around the hotel. According to reports at the time, nearby businesses were vacated and closed.

Ferndale Police and partner law enforcement agencies moved quickly to protect the other guests of the hotel and to make contact with the suspect, according the statement.

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The suspect refused all attempts at communication with law enforcement. Eventually, law enforcement personnal “forced contact with the suspect by breaking his room window. Unfortunately, the suspect was not cooperative and tear gas was deployed into the hotel room which caused the suspect to exit where he surrendered to officers.”

Between the suspect’s vehicle and hotel room, the Ferndale Police confiscated the following items.

  • 3 semi-automatic rifles
  • 1 rifle
  • 1 shotgun
  • 6 handguns
  • 97 associated magazines for the firearms
  • 1 hatchet
  • 3 knives
  • body armor with a rifle plate
  • a Kevlar face mask
  • over 4,200 rounds of ammunition.

“These situations are extremely fast moving and when you have an armed suspect you have to quickly asses the danger to the public, time constraints, the suspects intent, and the ability to act on that intent,” Ferndale Police Chief Kevin Turner is quoted as saying in the statement. “While the investigation is ongoing, I do not wish to speculate about the suspect’s intent, however based on the weapons seized at the scene, this situation could have easily taken a very different path.” I cannot express how grateful I am that all officers came through this situation safely and that the suspect was taken safely into custody,” said Turner.

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