Weird accident, knifing, shooting keep police busy


Staff reporter

Beginning last Friday, Oak Harbor Police had a busy three days, with a very unusual SUV-versus-pedestrian accident, a stabbing and a shooting.

Sgt. Jerry Baker said police are still looking into the details of a serious accident that occurred in a parking lot near the Oak Harbor Tavern early Friday morning, but charges are likely.

Just before 3 a.m., police received a report from witnesses who saw a SUV hit a female pedestrian. But when officers arrived, they couldn't find the victim or the vehicle.

At 4:40 a.m., police received a report from Navy security on Glacier Loop. The 44-year-old woman who had been run over was in serious pain and needed medical attention. Baker said she was transported to Whidbey General Hospital and airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with serious injuries, including fractured vertebrae.

Baker said it turned out that friends had taken the woman to a home after the accident without reporting the incident to police. He said the victim and her friends were uncooperative with investigators, who are trying to determine who ran her over.

At just at 7 p.m. Saturday, police received a report that a man had been stabbed in the chest at an apartment complex on Seventh Avenue. Baker said the victim, Sanford Swayzer, lost about three liters of blood. He said three individuals, including two people who work for the Navy hospital, helped save Swayzer by administering first aid.

"It was a bang-up job on their part," Baker said.

Swayzer was transported to Harborview Medical Center, where he was in satisfactory condition Tuesday.

Police arrested Swayzer's girlfriend, 18-year-old Irene Burleson, Baker said.

At an Island County Superior Court hearing Monday, Burleson was held on probable cause for second-degree assault, a domestic violence charge, for stabbing Swayzer near the clavicle with a seven-inch kitchen knife, according to Chief Criminal Prosecutor Andrea Vingo. Judge Vickie Churchill set Burleson's bail at $5,000.

At 4:40 a.m. Sunday, police responded to a report of a gunshot coming from an apartment complex on SW Harrier Street. Baker said police arrested 24-year-old Jennifer Tayla after finding a pistol in her home. She was prohibited from having a gun because she had been convicted in California of felony theft, according to Vingo.

Baker said Tayla pointed a pistol at her boyfriend, demanding a cell phone he didn't have, and shot over his head. The bullet went into a nearby house, through a bedroom wall where a woman was sleeping and lodged in the ceiling. The sleeping resident didn't wake up from the gunshot, but found the bullet hole in the morning.

"It was a .45, so it really made a good-sized hole," he said.

In court Monday, the judge found probable cause to believe Tayla committed the unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree. She was released on her personal recognizance.

Baker said Tayla may face more serious charges.

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at or call 675-6611.

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