Sumas police wrestle handguns away from convicted felon wearing bullet-proof vest

SUMAS - Two Sumas police officers disarmed a man who had two handguns and may have intended to shoot them, according to court documents.

Police arrested Kenneth R. Ericson Jr. on suspicion of unlawfully possessing firearms. He had been out on bond while awaiting trial on charges that he fired on a U.S. Border Patrol agent in May 2009.

Ericson is a convicted felon and was barred from owning or possessing guns as a condition for his release. He is being held in the Whatcom County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.

According to charging documents filed in Whatcom County Superior Court:

Officer Bill DeBruin was parked on Cherry Street at about 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 22, when he heard a rustling sound nearby and saw a man underneath a van parked nearby.

DeBruin called for his partner, Officer Lyle Olesen, and they ordered the man out from beneath the van. The man tried to get away from the officers on the other side of the van.

DeBruin and Olesen met him as he was getting up, and saw him reach into his waistband and begin to remove a handgun.

DeBruin drew his service weapon while Olesen reached over the man's shoulder and wrestled the gun away from him. They immediately recognized the man as Ericson.

Ericson then allegedly reached into his pocket to grab a second handgun, but the officers stopped him.

Ericson was armed with semi-automatic pistols that were fully loaded with bullets that could pierce bullet-proof vests. Ericson was wearing a bullet-proof vest and had about 400 rounds of ammunition on him when the officers arrested him.

Ericson is alleged to have told the officers, "I'm looking for a place to die. I know I want to die and I'm not against taking certain people with me."

Sumas Police Chief Chris Haugen commended the officers, both 20-year veterans of the department, for how they handled the situation.

"They were able to put a stop to this situation before any violence occurred, and that's always the best result," he said.

Whatcom County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Mac Setter said the investigation into the incident was continuing and he's considering filing assault charges against Ericson, depending on the evidence compiled.

After the May 2009 arrest, investigators seized numerous weapons from Ericson's home on Jones Road.

In a search following his arrest Sunday, investigators found large quantities of gun powder, ammunition and magazines for AK-47 and AR-15 rifles. The rifles were not located in the search.

Ericson was arrested on suspicion of second-degree assault on May 20, 2009, for allegedly firing a rifle at a U.S. Border Patrol agent who was patrolling Jones Road.

Ericson said he was firing at crows in his backyard and the shots were incidentally in the direction of the agent's vehicle, which was not hit. The agent said he heard the shots as they passed over his vehicle.

Ericson told a reporter after he posted bond and was released from jail that he wanted to go to trial immediately to prove his innocence.

His case slowed, however, and he was re-arrested after he failed to appear for a court date in October. He posted bond again and was released from jail.

In May 2010, Ericson was charged with additional counts of unlawfully possessing firearms after the prosecutor in the case received records of Ericson's felony conviction in Colorado in 1989.

His trial date in that case is set for Sept. 27.