Man killed in Whatcom County deputy-involved shooting

The suspect allegedly had a history of mental health issues and violence against law enforcement.

LYNDEN, Wash. A man with a history of mental problems and violence against law enforcement was shot and killed by Whatcom County sheriff's deputies and a border patrol officer Monday morning.

It happened at a mobile home at 9250 Clay Road in rural Whatcom County just after 9:30 a.m. A family called 911 to report Alex Martinez, 30, was smashing windows out of the home.

As law enforcement arrived, Martinez ran out of the home swinging a hammer, said Sheriff Bill Elfo. Martinez allegedly attacked one of the deputies, hitting him in the head with the hammer.

One deputy fired his taser, but that didn't stop Martinez. The other deputy and the border officer fired their weapons, killing Martinez. It's not immediately known which one of them fired the fatal shot.

The injured deputy was taken to Saint Joseph Hospital in Bellingham with blunt force trauma to the head. His injuries are considered non-life threatening.

I just thank god that our deputy survived this attack, said Elfo.

Martinez' brother. Jorge, tells a different story. He says he was next to his brother when the shooting happened and says Martinez complied with the officers' commands to step out of the house.

He did not come out running. I don't know where they came up with that. I don't know who said a hammer, I mean, I was over his body asking 'what hammer are you guys talking about?' said Jorge, who claims his brother was carrying a flashlight.

I know the officers were trying to protect each other, but my brother has a life too, he said.

Martinez struggled with mental health issues from an old head injury and his medication was not working, said Jorge.

Leticia Perez, Martinez' half-sister says the deputies overreacted.

I understand my brother lifted his flashlight and hit the police officer, but he shouldn't be shot for that, she said. He didn't have a knife or a gun. He had a flashlight.

Martinez has a history of violence against sheriff's deputies dating back to 1993 and assaulted a Whatcom County deputy in 2007, said Elfo.

Bellingham police, who were not involved in the shooting, are handling the investigation.


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