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Bellingham man charged with murder after transient camp shooting

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — On Friday, September 3rd, first responders were dispatched to a wooded area behind a retail business in the 4400 block of Guide Meridian after 2pm due to a report of a gunshot victim.

According to documents filed in Whatcom County Superior Court, Bellingham Police Department (BPD) detectives responded and discovered the body of a deceased man. There was a canvas tent in the area and 2 firearms were taken from inside and secured by BPD officers who arrived first.

Detectives interviewed a man who said he was asleep in a chair outside the tent when he was awoken by the sound of a gunshot. He saw the victim, identified as Scott Dobson, age 27, crawling to a bed inside the tent while complaining he had been shot.

A woman whose camp was about 100 feet away came over after hearing the gunshot and instructed the man to call 911 and said she would go to the road to direct first responders to the camp.

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When detectives interviewed the woman later, she told them she had seen a rifle propped up outside the tent when she initially responded to the gunshot noise. But detectives noted the rifle was no longer there.

A search warrant for the camp was obtained and as a result a total of 2 rifles were located at the camp along with spent 22 caliber casings and 7mm rifle rounds. A 22 caliber rifle was located inside a nearby trailer and matched the description given by the woman of the rifle she had seen propped up outside the tent. This rifle had a black colored bullet in the chamber.

While the murder investigation continued, BPD officers took the man, identified as Travis William Hamilton, age 38, into custody and booked him into Whatcom County Jail due to outstanding arrest warrants for failure to appear in a Superior Court case where he faced a felony 2nd degree burglary charge and another in Bellingham Municipal Court for trespass.

Whatcom County Medical Examiner Gary Goldfogel performed an autopsy which located a black colored 22 caliber bullet in the victim’s torso. The gunshot wound was determined to not have been self-inflicted.

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As a result of the weapons seized at the scene, the autopsy findings and witness statements, investigators said there was probable cause to charge Hamilton with 2nd degree murder, a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in custody and/or up to $50,000 in fines.

As of September 9th, Hamilton remained in custody pending being able to post a $1,000,000 bond.

BPD Lt. Claudia Murphy told Whatcom News next-of-kin notification had been made to Dobson’s family.

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