Man accused of aiming rifle at officer faces felony charge

A San Juan Island man faces a charge of felony assault for allegedly pointing a weapon at an officer who was responding to a late-night noise complaint at his Friday Harbor home.

On Aug. 15, Robert Edward Voorhees, 49, pleaded innocent in San Juan County Superior Court to one count of third-degree assault, a Class C felony. He was released on $10,000 bail pending trial, which is scheduled to begin Oct. 27.

According to court documents, a neighbor’s complaint about noise coming from Voorhees’ upstairs apartment on Argyle Avenue on Aug. 9 prompted an investigation by an officer at about 11:30 p.m.

The officer was unable to roust Voorhees while knocking on his front door and recruited a neighbor to give it a try, which proved successful.

According to prosecutors, as the officer motioned through the front window for Voorhees to come out of the apartment, Voorhees picked up a rifle and pointed it at the deputy while advancing to the door. He was taken into custody moments later outside the apartment.

Voorhees claims he initially only saw his neighbor at the door. He said he pointed the weapon — which he describes as an “inoperable” pellet gun that at the time was unloaded and incapable of firing — as a joke.

“I’d never point a weapon at an officer,” he said. “I’m guilty of being stupid, but is that worth losing my job over or becoming homeless?”

Voorhees said he’s also baffled by being charged with assault since he never laid a hand on the officer. If convicted, he would face up to five years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both.

“There was no contact or nothing like that,” he said. “I apologized to the guy.”

Voorhees, who according to court documents was intoxicated at the time, shrugged off the incident as a potential threat, claiming the pellet gun was unloaded, inoperable and that he hadn’t seen the officer standing behind his neighbor.

In addition to felony assault, he was taken into custody at the time on charges of aiming a weapon at an officer and disorderly conduct, both of which are misdemeanors.

He is being represented in the case by public defender Thomas Pacher.

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