VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — For the second time in 2016, a home near a Vancouver middle school has been busted on suspicion of meth, police say.
In the northeast part of Vancouver, the home has been an eyesore to neighbors for years. It sits near Covington Middle School.
Stacks of wood, wires and the bottoms of plastic chairs were piling up, and “keep out” signs decorated all corners of the home.
Police officers and deputies said they’ve been given tips about the suspected illegal activity happening inside for a while now.
Saturday wasn’t the first time they had a search warrant to investigate the home.
The suspect was identified as 56-year-old William Rathgeber.
“He was charged with multiple counts of methamphetamine distribution and possession of firearms back in May. [The] gentlemen bailed out of jail,” said Sgt. Pat Moore with the Vancouver Police Department, who added Rathgeber is a convicted felon.
Now Rathgeber faces at least an additional 13 felony charges, including possession of meth and unlawful possession of a firearm.
“Probably 50 or 60 officers were out here yesterday afternoon, executed another search warrant, recovered several ounces of methamphetamine, or suspected meth, [and] 9 firearms,” said Moore.
“Daily the buses come up and down here in Covington, and kids are walking across the street on the crosswalk on a daily basis. When you have this type of activity happening right across [from] the school, it’s definitely concerning,” said Moore.
Sgt. Spencer Harris with the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force said people living in the home would try to sell meth to children on their way to the school.
Harris works undercover and told KOIN 6 News he had been keeping a close watch on Rathgeber.
He said when authorities appeared at the home neighbors applauded them for their efforts. Authorities waited until the weekend to make the arrest so school wouldn’t be in session.
The main reason Rathgeber wasn’t arrest sooner was due to limited staff and resources, Harris told KOIN 6 News.
The school district released the following statement on the arrest:
“Covington Security staff, the CCSO SRO assigned to the area and general law enforcement patrols are aware of this property and provide an heightened level of scrutiny to it.”