MOUNT VERNON — In the moments after Mount Vernon police officer Michael “Mick” McClaughry was shot in the head, the man accused of pulling the trigger made several frantic 911 calls, threatening to shoot hostages and detonate a bomb.
As prosecutors called their final witness in the trial of Ernesto Rivas on Tuesday and Wednesday, jurors listened to calls between a man who identified himself as Rivas, and 911 dispatchers and crisis negotiators.
Rivas, 47, is facing six charges, including two for first-degree attempted murder.
“I ain’t playin’,” Rivas shouted several times to the 911 dispatcher.
With the sound of gunshots in the background, Rivas told the dispatcher he had hostages and would shoot them if officers did not back away from his house.
He told dispatchers he had a bomb and demanded to speak to Mount Vernon Mayor Jill Boudreau.
“I’m telling you right now, I have a bomb in here,” Rivas said. “A bomb that will level this whole (expletive) block.”
If police didn’t stop talking on their radios, he said, he would shoot a hostage.
Those hostages turned out to be two teenage accomplices who were holed up inside the house with Rivas after running there from the scene of the first shooting, less than a block away from Rivas’ home.
“Who’s the officer who got shot,” Rivas demanded, unaware it was McClaughry.
After a crisis negotiator got on the line, Rivas again demanded to speak to Boudreau.
“She’s a good friend of mine,” he said.
Earlier in the trial, Boudreau testified she had been in touch with Rivas that night and he had demanded she come to his house. After exchanging several text messages and a short phone call, Boudreau headed to the 911 dispatch center, where the negotiators were speaking with Rivas.
“If you want to talk to Jill, your best chance is on the outside, once you’re in custody,” Skagit County Sheriff’s deputy Brad Holmes told Rivas.
Rivas also demanded to speak to Mount Vernon officers he was familiar with, including McClaughry.
In other calls, a calmer Rivas and Holmes talked about Rivas’ kids.
“Where do you see this going Ernie,” Holmes asked. “Ernie, you want to be around to watch those kids grow, whether it’s from the outside or the inside.”
At some point, Rivas’ “hostages” can be heard confirming to Holmes they are all right.
The calls lasted more than an hour, up to the moments of Rivas’ arrest.
Holmes’ testimony began Tuesday afternoon and continued Wednesday morning, at which point the prosecution rested its case.
Rivas’ defense team, public defenders Tammy Candler and Jason Smith, began their case Wednesday, calling witnesses including Mount Vernon police officer Chester Curry.
Curry testified that Rivas had once allowed him to view footage from Rivas’ surveillance cameras while he was investigating a vehicle collision.
Later in the afternoon on Wednesday, Rivas’ wife — who was his girlfriend at the time of the incident — testified.
Krystal Rivas said Ernesto Rivas was involved in his neighborhood Block Watch program, was a community activist, and was familiar with Boudreau. She said he had even attended her election night party when she was re-elected.
She said she had never known the man with whom she had three children to handle a firearm.
“Let alone give one to a kid,” she said.
Two of the charges Ernesto Rivas is facing relate to the shooting officers were at his home to investigate, which had occurred earlier in the evening. Prosecutors contend Ernesto Rivas gave 16-year-old Austin Gonzales the weapon that was used in that shooting.
Krystal Rivas testified she and Ernesto Rivas were at his home on LaVenture Road early that evening when she heard what she thought were fireworks. Ernesto Rivas told her they were gunshots and to get down on the ground, she said.
Ernesto Rivas then left the house for a short time, she said. While he was gone, she heard banging on the back door and peeked out the blinds to see Gonzales and 15-year-old Roberto Lopez.
Lopez, she said, came in the back door and Gonzales in the front. Both boys, she said, appeared to have guns.
Ernesto Rivas then returned to the home and Krystal Rivas left, she said.
As police were closing in on his home, prosecutors contended earlier in the trial, Ernesto Rivas texted Krystal Rivas that he had too many things in the house that he wasn’t supposed to have and that he wasn’t going back to jail.
Krystal Rivas, prosecutors contend, told him to throw the items in the attic.
In her testimony, Krystal Rivas said she was talking about pain pills prescribed to her.
The defense also called Western Washington University professor Jennifer Devenport, who testified about the accuracy of the photo lineups of Gonzales and Lopez that witnesses were asked to look at.
Devenport, who teaches and studies legal psychology, said there were several issues with the photos in the lineups, including that most of the other images witnesses looked at were of men older than the boys, therefore potentially skewing the witnesses toward Gonzales and Lopez.