UPDATED: Bellingham Police are charging a man with murder after a shooting

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – First responders were dispatched to the E Myrtle Street and High Street area at 11:59 p.m. Friday, October 28 following a report of an attack with a deadly weapon.

Approximate location

Responding officers from the Bellingham Police Department (BPD) were advised over the radio that several people had called 911 to report that a victim had been shot in the chest during a large gathering at an apartment building.

It was initially reported that CPR was in progress and that the victim was later pronounced deceased at the scene.

Other BPD officers reported seeing a vehicle that matched a suspicious vehicle description. It was eventually found abandoned around 12:30 a.m. in the area of ​​Alabama Street and Undine Street.

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Approximate location where the suspect vehicle was left

BPD K9 units began tracking the area and at 2:30 a.m. BPD officers booked a subject into Whatcom County Jail on suspicion 2.- 1 degree Murder and illegal possession of firearms.

Subject has been identified in prison records as Brian Andy Pantoja, aged 22.

Pantoja was convicted of a 2020 felony count of 2nd-degree robbery with a deadly weapon in Whatcom County Superior Court. As a result, he is unable to lawfully own a firearm.

BPD Lieutenant Claudia Murphy sent the following report of the incident to Whatcom News around 1:00 p.m. Saturday.

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Brian A. Pantoja, 22, Bellingham and the 21-year-old victim were at the same Halloween party on October 28, 2022 on the 500 block of E. Myrtle Street when an altercation broke out between them. This altercation resulted in Pantoja shooting the victim in the chest and fleeing the scene. Despite life-saving attempts by witnesses and arriving Bellingham police officers, the victim died of his injuries at the scene. Pantoja was arrested a few hours later and charged with first-degree murder and unlawful possession of a firearm.

At approximately 11:59 p.m. on October 28, Bellingham police officers responded with gunfire at the 500 block of E. Myrtle Street, and someone fired. They found the 21-year-old victim in the doorway with a gunshot wound to the torso. Witnesses were already performing CPR, and arriving officers continued to provide life support until Bellingham Fire Department (BFD) paramedics arrived. The victim succumbed to his injuries at the scene. Pantoja and his friends fled the area.

Officers had a good description of Pantoja and immediately began searching for him. Pantoja has been linked to a white Dodge Charger that officers realized was involved in a hit-and-run collision earlier in the night. Officers returned to the scene of the accident where the Dodge Charger was last seen and found the Dodge Charger leaving the area. When the officer reversed his squad car, the Dodge fled.

BPD officers, assisted by deputies from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, continued their search around town and eventually located the Dodge Charger in a parking lot on the 1900 block of Alabama Street. The BPD K-9s Destro and Prowl both entered service to move away from the Dodge. They could isolate a specific apartment.

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BPD officers monitored the apartment and eventually Pantoja walked over to a waiting car. He was taken into custody without incident and was sent to the Whatcom County Jail for first-degree murder and unlawful possession of a firearm. Pantoja is a felon convicted of second-degree robbery and is not allowed to own a firearm.

The BPD Detective Division and Crime Scene Investigators are continuing their work on this murder and are asking anyone with additional information to contact BPD in one of the following ways:
Email Tip Line – www.cob.org/tips
Phone Tip – 360-778-8611

Lieutenant Claudia Murphy of the Bellingham Police Department (29 October 2022)

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