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News / Clark County News

Vancouver man to serve more than 17 years for role in gun-trafficking connected to sheriff’s deputy’s murder

Attempt to sell stolen firearms led to 2021 fatal shooting of Clark County sheriff’s Detective Jeremy Brown

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Local News Editor
Published: April 25, 2024, 7:30pm

A Vancouver man was sentenced April 18 to more than 17 years in prison for his role in helping to sell stolen firearms in the trafficking scheme that led to the 2021 fatal shooting of Clark County sheriff’s Detective Jeremy Brown.

Charles Alfred Cooper Jr., 48, pleaded guilty in February in Clark County Superior Court to first-degree trafficking in stolen property, possession of a stolen firearm and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. He also pleaded guilty in an unrelated 2023 case to first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, court records show.

Guillermo Raya Leon, of Salem, Ore., shot Brown on July 23, 2021, as the detective conducted surveillance in his unmarked Jeep SUV at an east Vancouver apartment complex. Law enforcement officers from several agencies were watching Raya Leon, his brother and his brother’s wife as part of an investigation into the stolen firearms.

Prosecutors said Raya Leon’s sister-in-law, Misty Raya, initiated the firearms-trafficking scheme by breaking into a Hazel Dell storage unit and stealing dozens of guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition in June 2021.

The trio were all convicted in Brown’s murder and sentenced last year: Guillermo Raya Leon to life in prison, Misty Raya to 25 years and Abran Raya Leon to 27 years. A fourth co-defendant, Lani Kraabell, who helped Misty Raya find buyers for the stolen firearms, pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to six years in prison; she testified against the brothers at their trials.

Kraabell testified that she picked up and brought the trio to a friend’s apartment on the day of the shooting while she helped them find a motel room. Earlier in the day, law enforcement had chased the trio from a motel near Castle Rock, according to trial testimony.

While en route to the apartment complex, Misty Raya told Kraabell she had a large number of stolen firearms and asked if she knew anyone who would buy them. Kraabell told her she’d call a man named Charles Cooper, according to court records and trial testimony.

At the apartment, the brothers unloaded the bags of firearms and brought them inside. Kraabell said she talked to her friend about finding the trio a motel room while they waited for Cooper to arrive.

While waiting, Guillermo Raya Leon spotted Brown’s Jeep, with Brown in the driver’s seat, parked at the back of the complex. He approached the SUV to confront Brown about watching them, according to court records and trial testimony.

Prosecutors said he ambushed Brown, and the two exchanged gunfire; Brown was struck in the chest.

Following the shooting, Abran Raya Leon drove the trio away from the apartment complex.

Shortly after, Kraabell’s friend’s partner, Stephen Harley Iverson, arrived at the apartment. He discovered the cache of guns and ammunition and hid them in a storage ottoman in the living room, Kraabell testified.

Law enforcement searched the apartment later that day and seized thousands of rounds of ammunition, but officers did not find any guns. So, Kraabell said, they continued the plan to sell them to Cooper. Court records state they moved the firearms to a storage unit.

Cooper came to the storage unit a day or two later and left with the guns — three “AR style” rifles and a fourth firearm. Police say he took them to the house of a friend. That friend told police that once he realized the guns were associated with Brown’s shooting, he told Cooper to come pick them up, according to court records.

Court records state Cooper picked up the guns. Cooper and Iverson were seen on surveillance footage Aug. 15 at the Hazel Dell Quality Inn on Highway 99 carrying large bags into a room rented in Cooper’s name. Two days later, Cooper was seen loading the bags back into his car with his girlfriend and taking them to her house, court records state.

Police found text messages on Cooper’s phone that show him negotiating buying the guns from Iverson and attempting to sell them. Cooper told police he gave the guns back to Kraabell and Iverson but then changed his statement and said he sold the guns. He would not say to whom, court records say.

Iverson previously pleaded guilty to second-degree trafficking in stolen property and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. He is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

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