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Arraignment postponed for alleged Greenbank shooter
COUPEVILLE — A judge refused to accept a guilty plea from a Greenbank man charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm in Island County Superior Court Monday, and said she wanted more information on the man’s mental state before accepting his plea.
Authorities claim Christopher L. Locken, 28, had illegally carried a loaded firearm in his truck after an incident Aug. 26 where he fired a .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol from the front porch of his mother’s home in Greenbank.
During Locken’s arraignment hearing earlier this week, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme said the state was not ready to accept Locken’s guilty plea.
Ohme recalled that Locken had been previously incarcerated in King County and had been scheduled for a mental health court appearance, but after breaking a window there, King County officials released their hold on Locken and sent him to Coupeville, where he was wanted on a $30,000 arrest warrant.
“I’m concerned that perhaps he’s not competent to enter a plea at this point,” Ohme said.
Even so, Locken’s attorney. Peter Simpson, said he had met with Locken earlier Monday and that his client was ready to admit his guilt.
“It appeared to me that he understood the nature of these proceedings and that he could assist in his own defense,” Simpson said. “This morning, he told me that he would like to enter a plea today.”
Judge Vickie Churchill then quizzed Locken on the charge he was facing, and noted that authorities in King County had scheduled him for a mental health board review at Western State Hospital.
Churchill then said she would continue the arraignment for one week to get more information on what happened in King County.
“It does concern me that there was some indication in King County that you might have a mental health problem. And I would like to have a little bit more information on that before I accept any sort of guilty plea from you,” she told Locken.
Authorities said they received a report of gunfire near Tomchuck Lane in Greenbank around 2 a.m. Friday, Aug. 26, and a deputy’s report on the incident details a day of bizarre behavior by Locken.
After the initial report of gunshots, police were called by a worker at Whidbey General South that Locken had shown up for an appointment more than seven hours early. The caller said Locken was agitated and was wearing a tomahawk in a holster on his waist. He left before a deputy arrived.
Shortly after 11 a.m., Locken’s mother called 911 and said her son was firing his gun from her front porch. Sheriff’s deputies and Coupeville and Langley police responded to the shooting, but Locken had already left.
A deputy found nine spent casings from .40-caliber Winchester-brand ammunition, and police left the scene to go look for Locken.
A short time later, Locken called 911 from a friend’s house in Freeland, and police found him there, carrying a camping hatchet, but with an empty pistol holster on his belt.
Locken began rambling about “being a Christian soldier and needing to protect the people,” according to the deputy’s report, adding that he said “he was a CIA agent and that he needed to save the Secret Service agents under the White House.”
Locken denied having a gun or shooting one, and he was taken to Whidbey General Hospital for a mental health evaluation.
Police later found his pickup truck in front of the Ace Hardware store in Freeland and impounded the vehicle.
The following week, when a deputy talked to Locken at the hospital, Locken said he had thrown the pistol in a swamp behind his house.
The next day, a search team of deputies, detectives and a canine unit scoured the area. Locken had also told a detective he had wrapped the gun in black plastic and buried it, but the weapon could not be found.
On Sept. 1, after getting a search warrant, deputies looked through Locken’s Toyota pickup and found the pistol under the driver’s seat of the vehicle. The handgun was loaded, with a round in the chamber, and there was also a second magazine clip in the center jockey box of the truck. Deputies also found a box containing 50 rounds of Mach 2 ammunition, and a second box holding 17 rounds.
Locken had been under an Island County court order from August, and one from Snohomish County for the same month, that said he could not possess firearms.
Locken has had prior trouble with the law, according to court records. A former Clinton resident, he spent 60 days in jail in 2006 after deputies found him trying to smash the windshield of a car parked on Haven Way.
The police report from the March 2005 incident said Locken was acting strange when he was arrested at the scene, and a deputy said Locken had wrapped a wire around his head and it was poking out from his ears like two antennae.
Deputies later went to Locken’s home and found the front door had been kicked open and everything in the residence had been turned over, broken or damaged.