Wash. Deputies Return to Duty Nearly Year after Both Shot in Face

Jan. 5, 2023
Whatcom County sheriff's deputies Ryan Rathbun and Jason Thompson were responding to a neighborhood dispute in February when a man with a shotgun opened fire at them.

By Jack Belcher and Denver Pratt

Source The Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Wash.)

Whatcom County Sheriff's Office deputies Ryan Rathbun and Jason Thompson, have been cleared to return to duty following months of recovery after both were shot in the face while on duty Feb. 10.

"Deputy Rathbun and Deputy Thompson not only fought to survive the deadly attack that was launched against them last February; they courageously battled to recover from their wounds and return to fulfill their passion for serving and protecting the community," said Sheriff Bill Elfo in a news release.


"We at the Sheriff's Office are eternally grateful to all who made their survival and recovery possible. From the armed citizens who helped protect them on the day of the attack; to the fire service and health care professionals who rendered treatment; to the good people of our community who offered prayers, well-wishes, and overwhelming support for our deputies. We can never thank you enough."

Rathbun returned to duty Tuesday, Dec. 27, and Thompson returns Monday, Jan. 9, according to an email from Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Deb Slater.

The deputies were responding to a neighborhood dispute and one attempted to talk with one of the neighbors who had a shotgun. During this contact, the deputies were shot in their heads.

The suspect, later identified as 60-year-old Joel Berck Young, surrendered and was taken into custody less than two hours later.

Young was criminally charged Feb. 17 in Whatcom County Superior Court with two counts of first-degree attempted murder, one count of first-degree assault while armed with a firearm, one count of second-degree assault while armed with a firearm, one count of felony harassment and six counts of reckless endangerment, according to court records.

His jury trial has tentatively been scheduled for Feb. 13, 2023.

Thompson, his wife and Rathbun filed a civil lawsuit against Young in March, seeking special and general damages. Proceedings in that case have been stayed while Young's criminal case is pending, court records show.

A status hearing for the civil case is scheduled for Jan. 6, 2023.

Young is currently incarcerated in the Skagit County Community Justice Center in lieu of $5 million bail, court and jail records show.


(c)2022 The Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Wash.)

Visit The Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Wash.) at www.bellinghamherald.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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