Cases: Following up on past stories of arrest, lawsuits in the area


Below are follow-up stories to previous arrests of residents or suspects in local crime cases and lawsuits that have since been resolved in court.

Birch Bay drive-by suspect pleads guilty to attempted murder

A Bellingham man who turned himself in February 20, 2022, after attempting to kill a Birch Bay man February 19, 2022 pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder and drive-by shooting in Whatcom County Superior Court January 9.

Martin Dylan Siergiey, 37, was sentenced to serve 12 years in prison and three years probation January 18 after pleading guilty to both charges.

Around 6 p.m. February 19, 2022, Siergiey approached a 28-year-old man in the 5500 block of Hillvue Road, asked who he was by name and began shooting at the man when he confirmed his identity, according to the affidavit of probable cause (APC). The man fled into a neighbor’s house. Siergiey believed the man had raped a member of his family.

Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) deputies responded to the scene after receiving a report that the 28-year-old had been shot and the suspect was on the run. Deputies found a bullet had struck the man in his upper right thigh as he was running. He was treated at the scene and later saw a doctor, according to the APC. He was the only person injured. Two rounds also hit the neighbor’s house; one hit the headboard in their bedroom and another hit their bathroom closet. 

Siergiey was identified as a possible suspect based on a suspicious circumstance report filed by a third party in November 2020 that accused the Birch Bay man of raping Siergiey’s female family member. 

WCSO deputies and Bellingham Police Department officers later contacted Siergiey who turned himself in around 1 a.m. the following day after negotiations with deputies.

Custer man and Compass Health settle lawsuit out of court

A Custer man who worked as a mental health professional at Whatcom County Jail will receive a settlement for a lawsuit he filed against Whatcom County and Compass Health in July 2021. 

Fred A. Pulphus filed a lawsuit July 13, 2021, in the U.S. district court in Seattle against behavioral healthcare agency Compass Health, Whatcom County, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and corrections chief Wendy Jones that was settled out of court, according to court documents. 

The claims against Jones were dismissed January 3. A stipulation for dismissal will be filed for the other defendants once Pulphus has been compensated. The lawsuit alleged that Compass Health, the county and its officials violated the Washington State Law Against Discrimination and interfered with Pulphus’ job because he is Black. It also alleged that Jones violated Pulphus’ 14th Amendment rights to due process and equal protection under the law when he was banned from working at the county jail after no action was taken following his repeated reports of racism and harassment in the workplace, according to the lawsuit.

Compass Health, headquartered in Snohomish County, is a community-based healthcare agency centered around northwest Washington. It provides behavioral and mental health services to adult and youth inmates at Whatcom County Jail and is part of a healthcare team that works alongside nurses and medical providers, according to court documents.

Pulphus’ lawsuit alleged that he was denied the process and disciplinary practices and policies extended to other employees, and Compass Health’s treatment of him was discriminatory. Pulphus was denied access to promotions, pay increases and other career opportunities, according to the lawsuit.

In December 2018, Compass Health recruited Pulphus to work on the jail’s behavioral health team. Upon being hired, Pulphus said in court documents that he experienced multiple incidents of discrimination and hostility in his two years working at the jail, including threats by a coworker who said they could recruit colleagues to get him fired. 

In February 2019, Pulphus reported to his direct supervisor the ongoing harassment and racist comments. He also reported to the behavioral health team manager that a coworker was attempting to get him fired, but the manager allegedly said the coworkers were bullies and took no action.

Pulphus complained to Jones, but Jones and other county officials did not investigate or take action, according to the complaint. Pulphus also called the Compass Health company hotline to report the harassment and discrimination. 

According to court documents, Pulphus continued to seek help and file reports of the racism and harassment, one of which was filed with Compass Health’s CEO. In November 2019, Pulphus met with a human resources representative at Compass Health.

In January 2020, a nursing supervisor at the jail told Whatcom County officials that Pulphus shared personal information of an inmate with healthcare team members and other people, breaching their privacy, the lawsuit read. Whatcom County officials subsequently banned Pulphus from working at the jail on January 23, 2020.

Blaine man gets over 7 years for multiple unlawful possession charges

A Blaine man will serve over seven years in prison for recklessly firing a rifle and handgun at an abandoned farm house near Bay Road.

Michael R. Gubser, 32, of Blaine, was sentenced October 27, 2022, to 89 months in prison for three first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm charges, reckless endangerment and second-degree assault with a deadly weapon.

Around 6:30 p.m. May 30, 2022, Ferndale residents in the 3800 block of Bay Road reported that bullets were going over their heads, according to the APC. One resident wrote the license plate of the suspect’s vehicle, which WCSO deputies determined Gubser owned.

Deputies tried to stop Gubser in the 8400 block of Harborview Road but he drove away. State law prevented deputies from pursuing Gubser but they were later able to arrest him in the 5000 block of Lincoln Road.

Gubser was wanted on felony charges in northern California for driving without a license and falsely representing himself to officers in June 2020.

According to Whatcom County Superior Court records, he had separate first-degree assault with a deadly weapon and drive-by shooting charges from three days prior. The case was dismissed following his guilty plea and time served was included in the May 30 case sentence.

Birch Bay graffiti suspect serves time for unlawful possession

A Blaine man who was arrested in February 2021 for leaving a trail of “KJ” graffiti marks and other messages around Birch Bay served time for a separate charge he was arrested for months later. He was found in possession of a firearm in April 2021 after driving off the road in the early morning.

Joshua Ryan Taylor, 38, of Blaine, was sentenced October 13, 2022, to three months in jail after pleading guilty to second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm in Whatcom County Superior Court. He also pleaded guilty to second-degree malicious mischief, felony harassment and intimidating a public servant for the graffiti case, which was dismissed following his separate plea. Having served his time leading up to the sentencing, he was released from Whatcom County Jail October 13, 2022, following his plea, according to the jail roster.

Just after 3 a.m. April 23, 2021, WCSO deputies had responded to a single vehicle collision near the intersection of Delta Line Road and Vista Drive. A witness reported Taylor was driving at a high rate of speed through a four-way intersection and nearly struck them with his vehicle, according to the APC.

While emergency personnel removed Taylor from the vehicle, deputies found a pistol outside the car. The firearm held an 18-round magazine with 14 bullets inside and no bullet in the chamber, according to the APC. Taylor was not allowed to possess a firearm because of previous felonies and a no-contact harassment order. 

Taylor was booked into Whatcom County Jail June 30, 2022, after a bench warrant was issued for his arrest when he failed to appear in court. As described in the graffiti case’s APC, deputies responded February 21, 2021 to a Birch Bay-Lynden Road apartment for a report of domestic violence. At the apartment, deputies found spray paint cans and painted wooden letters K and J. 

Deputies arrested Taylor on February 27, 2021. During the arrest, he admitted to spray painting a slur on the seawall at the 8200 block of Birch Bay Drive. Taylor threatened the sheriff’s deputy who transported him to jail. The sheriff’s deputy determined Taylor’s statements constituted a threat of retaliation.


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