Man accused of shooting Mount Vernon officer faces judge, possible attempted murder charge

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. – Ernesto Lee Rivas Sr., the man accused of shooting a Mount Vernon police officer, faced a Skagit County judge Friday morning.

Rivas smirked when prosecutors asked the judge to set bail at $1 million. While he hasn’t yet been officially charged, Rivas’ criminal history could play a factor. He could face life in prison if he’s convicted on attempted first-degree murder.

The 44-year-old suspect entered court wearing street clothes, and his girlfriend was a spectator in the courtroom.

Krystal Horton said she has mothered several of his children and she is still struggling to understand what happened Thursday night.

“Just remember he has family,” she said. “Everybody involved has family, everybody has lost. We all lost something last night.”

On Thursday afternoon, Mount Vernon police responded a report of shots fired along North LaVenture Road.

When police arrived, investigators said, Rivas opened fire from a house, striking 30-year-veteran officer Mike “Mick” McClaughry in the head. Police praised the brave efforts of two other officers for pulling him away from further danger.

The shooting led to a police standoff with the gunman at the house that lasted just past midnight, when the suspect and two others in the house finally surrendered.

“It happened so fast, it was so much gunfire,” said one neighbor who asked that he not be identified. “When there’s bullets, you got to hide and lay down on the ground and not know what’s coming.”

“We heard shots, we got everybody into the living room,” said neighbor Shawn Williamson. “We tried to keep everybody down.”

Shortly after midnight, police arrested Rivas and booked him into jail along with two juvenile suspects -- something Horton said she is grateful for.

“I’m glad he did the right thing and came out for his kids, for his mom, for his neighbors, for the families,” she said. “I mean he really did the right thing. It could have ended a whole lot worse.”

Rivas will remain behind bars on $1 million bail. Two teenagers were also arrested and are being held in jail on $500,000 bail. A 15-year-old suspect is being processed in juvenile court, while a 16-year-old suspect is being processed in adult court.

Prosecutors have not yet filed formal charges but are considering attempted murder.

Considering Rivas’ violent criminal history, if convicted, he could be facing a third strike offense.

“It’s our understanding that he has two serious violent felonies, serious felonies, which would make him potentially eligible to be sentenced to life without parole,” said Skagit County Prosecutor Rich Weyrich.