UPDATE: Mount Vernon mayor responds about text from shooting suspect during standoff
UPDATE: On April 7, a spokesman for Mount Vernon Mayor Jill Boudreau said Ernesto Lee Rivas approached the mayor in 2015 asking what could be done about gang violence in the city. Boudreau’s spokesman said she notified police of that conversation and of each subsequent conversation, and that such interactions with community members were not uncommon.
“During the December event, Mayor Boudreau immediately relayed her interaction with Rivas to law enforcement, and took direction from law enforcement during the incident,” the mayor’s spokesman Peter Donovan, said in a statement. “For these reasons Mayor Boudreau is a witness in this case.”
Last December, during a seven-hour standoff after critically wounding Mount Vernon police officer, suspected shooter Ernesto Lee Rivas exchanged panicked text messages with a friend as he and two accomplices hid inside a Northern LaVenture Road home while a SWAT team waited outside.
That friend? It appears to be Mount Vernon Mayor Jill Boudreau, according to Skagit County court and investigation documents.
First reported on the Dori Monson Show, Rivas, a gang member who is in jail and facing attempted first-degree murder charges from the shooting that left Officer Mike McClaughry blind, admitted in text messages to a person identified as “Christa Jill Boudreau” that he expected to die that night after officers surrounded the house.
“Come 2 my house 824 N LAVENTURE,” Rivas texted at 7:42 p.m. on Dec. 15, 2016, investigation documents reveal. What followed, documents say, was this exchange from a phone identified as belonging to a Christa Jill Boudreau, who also is listed as a witness in the case:
— “Tell me what is happening,” read the text from Boudreau’s phone
— “I’m going 2 die” Rivas texted at 7:46 p.m.
— “Are u involved?” — text from Boudreau’s phone at 7:50 p.m.
— “Yes” — Rivas responded 41 seconds later.
Then came a series of unanswered texts from Boudreau’s phone:
— “Ernesto, please call me back” at 7:52 p.m.
— “Text me bAck” at 7:55 p.m.
— “Ernesto talk to me- I deserve that respect” at 7:59 p.m.
— “Please” at 7:59 p.m.
The text stream ends there, documents show. Boudreau didn’t return repeated calls seeking comment. According to the series of texts dating back to Sept. 2, Christa Jill Boudreau and Rivas regularly texted to check in on each other and to arrange times to visit in person. In September, they chatted about an oil pipeline protest in Mount Vernon and shared a joke about how poorly attended the protest was.
Then in November, it became increasingly clear how tumultuous Rivas’ life had become. Rivas, who has prior felony convictions, complained about regular conflicts with neighbors, texting about getting chased. Then on Nov. 4, 2016 he texted that, “This [expletive] was chasing rite now. The mother of the Vallejo’s”.
From Boudreau’s phone came this response: “Drive to the police dept.” In fact, in several instances, drive to the police department was the advice.
The texting between the two phones went silent for a month before the sudden plea to come to his house on Dec. 15.
It was that day, Skagit County investigators say, Rivas, Autin Isaias Gonzales, 16, and Roberto Lopez Jr. 15, became embroiled in an escalating conflict with men who police say were rival gang members. At approximately, 5:30 p.m., a man reported that he had been shot in the neck by another man who then ran back into a house at 824 LaVenture.
Officers from multiple agencies arrived at the house and surrounded it. When police approached the door, shots rang out. McClaughry was hit in the head and dragged from the home by fellow officers. He was transported to Harborview Medical Center in grave condition.
At the house, officers returned fire. The standoff lasted for several hours, documents show, with suspects shooting at police every time officers turned on floodlights. It was during the standoff that Rivas began texting.
The incident ended when police fired tear gas into the home and arrested the three men. Rivas and Gonzales, 16, were charged with first-degree attempted murder. Lopez Jr. was charged with first-degree and second-degree attempted murder in Skagit County juvenile court, according to the seattlepi.com.
KIRO Radio’s Andrew Lanier contributed to this report.