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Suspect in 2 armed robbery incidents pleads guilty, gets 70 months in custody

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Grace Francis Cooper, age 26, was sentenced in Whatcom County Superior Court on Thursday, May 11th, to 70 months in custody after pleading guilty to felony charges of 1st-degree robbery and 3rd-degree assault causing bodily harm accompanied by substantial pain. Cooper also faced felony charges of retail theft, 2nd-degree theft and theft of a motor vehicle in 2 other Superior Court cases that were dismissed on the same day.

The robbery charge stemmed from an armed robbery incident on September 17, 2021. In that incident, Bellingham Police officers responded to a report of an armed robbery at a south Bellingham retail business. The suspect walked behind the counter while pointing a gun and ordering the lone employee to open the cash register. The suspect then stole cigarettes and the employee’s bag. Surveillance video showed the suspect had a male companion waiting outside with a vehicle.

The assault charge stemmed from an attempted armed robbery incident at a retail business on Northwest Avenue on September 21, 2021. Bellingham Police responded to discover the suspect had been shot.

An employee behind the counter told police a woman wearing a facemask had walked behind the counter, pointed a black handgun and demanded cash from the register. Instead on complying, the clerk wrestled the gun away and it slid away across the floor. At this point, the woman and a male accomplice rushed the clerk and the clerk was punched by the woman.

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The clerk said he then pulled his own handgun and told the 2 to “get back.” The woman said they were leaving and then walked to her gun on the floor. The clerk fired his handgun and struck the woman. Surveillance video confirmed that the suspect had tried to rob the store and the clerk shot her.

The woman was later located by police where she had collapsed across the street with a single gunshot injury to her upper buttocks/hip. She was transported by ambulance to PeaceHealth St Joseph Medical Center.

The suspect in the first robbery attempt was wearing shoes with the same unique pattern as was the robbery suspect in the second robbery. It was also noted the suspect in the first robbery was missing part of a finger as could be seen in photos of Cooper taken after the second incident.

Cooper’s sentencing included 18 months of community custody and credit for time served.

In 2018, Cooper pled guilty to felony possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and sentenced to 45 days in custody plus a $500 fine. At the time of sentencing, she had 4 prior felony convictions including criminal impersonation, possession of a stolen vehicle and 3rd-degree assault.

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