Man stabbed on Port Townsend ferry

Assault with a deadly weapon charge filed

PORT TOWNSEND — One man has been charged with second-degree assault after he allegedly stabbed another man while they were traveling on the Kennewick state ferry.

Christopher Haltom, whose age and hometown were not immediately known, was treated and discharged at Jefferson Healthcare hospital in Port Townsend on Wednesday night, according to a probable cause statement written by State Patrol Trooper Alisha Gruszewski.

Gabriel Thomas Dignum, 22, was charged Thursday morning by Anna Phillips, Jefferson County deputy prosecuting attorney, with second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, a Class B felony, and unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon, a gross misdemeanor, court documents said. Dignum’s hometown was not immediately clear.

Dignum’s bail was set at $100,000 and his arraignment is set for Sept. 18 in Jefferson County Superior Court, Philips said Thursday.

Dignum changed clothes to avoid identification before disembarking the vessel, Gruszewski said.

Dignum was initially booked into the Jefferson County Jail at 10:53 p.m. Wednesday for investigation of first-degree assault, a Class A felony, unlawful carrying of a weapon capable of bodily harm, a gross misdemeanor, obstructing a law enforcement officer, a gross misdemeanor, and violating community custody, a Class C felony, according to county jail roster.

Dignum was traveling with Katherine Abitia, age and hometown unknown, on the Kennewick ferry from Coupeville on Whidbey Island to Port Townsend at about 7:45 p.m. when they reportedly became involved in a verbal altercation with Haltom, Gruszewski said.

The argument escalated into a physical fight, and Dignum stabbed Haltom in the back with a knife, Gruszewski said in her report.

Crew members aboard the Kennewick separated the two and treated Haltom’s wound.

At about 8 p.m., local law enforcement was alerted to the assault, and officers with the Port Townsend Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and State Patrol met the ferry in Port Townsend.

As the ferry docked, ferry personnel and riders pointed out Dignum to PTPD officers, saying he matched the description except for his clothes, Gruszewski said.

Clothes matching the initial description were found in Dignum’s backpack, and Dignum attempted to hide a shirt that also matched the initial description under the seat of the patrol vehicle, Gruszewski said.

A butterfly knife was found in Dignum’s backpack and another knife was located on the ferry, Gruszewski said.

Abitia attempted to obstruct officers and was booked into the Jefferson County Jail, Gruszewski said.

Officers found illegal drugs Abitia’s backpack, but Dignum said the drugs were his, the trooper said. Abitia was released.

The Kennewick was on schedule Thursday after it had been locked down for the investigation Wednesday night.

The final sailing of the day on Wednesday was canceled.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 360-385-2335, ext. 5.

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