PORT ANGELES — Bail was set for Gary Lee Blanton, Sr. at $150,000 Monday jailed after he allegedly fired a .44 Magnum handgun into a neighbor’s house Sunday night, injuring the adult male occupant.
Blanton’s son was murdered by a vigilante, his 5-year-old grandson died from a brain injury, and his daughter-in-law died of pneumonia.
Howard Poffel, of the 1300 block of South I St. in Port Angeles, was sitting on his couch watching TV on Sunday night when he heard that “something popped” and saw that his leg was bleeding, according to a police report.
An investigation showed the bullet passed through the wall of Blanton’s residence, a fence, the wall of Poffel’s house, a couch cushion, through his lower leg, then his upper leg, police said.
Poffel was treated and discharged from Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles, OMC spokeswoman Bobby Beeman said Monday.
Blanton, 54, Poffel’s next-door-neighbor, was arrested at about 10 p.m. Sunday on investigation of third-degree assault and unlawful possession of a firearm, a restriction that grew out of a 2015 fourth-degree assault-domestic violence conviction.
Blanton Sr., said in court documents to have drug and alcohol problems, was arrested after a deputy followed the trajectory of the bullet across the street to the north and saw a similar bullet hole on the southern exterior wall of Blanton’s residence.
Blanton’s son, Gary Blanton Jr., was 26 when he was shot and killed on June 2, 2012, at age 28, by Patrick Drum, who said he was on a vendetta to kill sex offenders, pleaded guilty to murder, and was sentenced to life in prison.
Gary Blanton Jr.’s wife, Leslie Lynn Blanton, died of pneumonia, and their son, Gary Blanton III, died at 5, in a beating death that has led to charges against the child’s aunt, Cynthia Khaleel, Gary Blanton Jr.’s younger sister, of Spokane County.
Khaleel’s trial is scheduled for June.
A charge against Gary Blanton Sr. of aiming a firearm at a human being grew out of a Dec. 22, 2014 armed standoff with Port Angeles police at Blanton’s South I Street residence that was precipitated by a report of gunshots being fired.
It was dismissed June 26 after Clallam County Superior Court Judge Brian Coughenour accepted the motion by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michele Devlin “not to proceed based upon the reports from two experts about the capacity of Mr. Blanton to form intent at the time of the offense,” according to her motion.
In setting bail Monday, Superior Court Judge Erik Rohrer said he was justified in being “extremely cautious” in setting the $150,000 amount recommended by the county Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jesse Espinoza.
“It seems like a reasonable inference given there a big hole in Mr. Blanton’s wall on the side the bullet allegedly went out into the neighbor’s house, and there’s a corresponding hole in the neighbor’s house,” Rohrer said.
He also noted that Blanton admitted to firing the .44-caliber handgun, which police said had two empty chambers when they found it wrapped in a white towel under blankets in Blanton’s bedroom.
“Blanton admitted to shooting his handgun, but did not intend on shooting anyone,” according to the police report.
“He said that he did not know what had happened or how.
“Blanton said he deserved to be arrested and that he should go to jail.”
Espinoza said that Blanton was “out of control.”
“Mr. Blanton, the past five years, alcohol has been a serious problem, so much that it’s just completely out of control,” Espinoza said.
“This is at the point … where someone is going to get killed, where someone almost got killed.”
Port Angeles lawyer Loren Oakley, representing Blanton, said the evidence against his client is “kind of weak,” adding that a defense of diminished mental capacity “may or may not apply” as it did in the 2014 standoff case against his client.
At the time of the Dec. 22, 2014 incident Blanton, a Burien native whose mother died when he was 11 months old, “did not realize his weapon was empty,” according to a May 11 psychological evaluation by Christopher Cadle, a state Department of Health psychologist and forensic evaluator.
He was drinking 18 beers a day as of Dec. 22, 2014, and also took methamphetamine and smoked marijuana, according to the evaluation.
Blanton was disoriented, incoherent, unable to converse, “grabbed at apparent hallucinations,” and “had delusional beliefs others were trying to kill him,” according to Cadle’s report.
“It is my opinion that, due to his state of intoxication delirium vs. delirium due to multiple etiologies [causes of his condition] on December 22, 2014, Mr. Blanton lacked the capacity to engage in consistent goal-directed purposeful behavior.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].