BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Bellingham Police Department Lieutenant Claudia Murphy shared the following incident narrative with Whatcom News via email on Saturday, October 1st.
On October 1, 2022, at 11:50 a.m., a Bellingham Police Officer was investigating a traffic collision on Lakeway Drive near Franklin Street. During that investigation a male intentionally crashed into her marked police SUV and got out wielding a knife at her. John C. Rupp, 29, Ferndale, shouted at the officer, wanting to be shot. Other officers arrived and took him into custody without incident. He was taken to the station for interviews and booked into the Whatcom County Jail for Assault 2nd degree (attempted,) malicious mischief 2nd degree (two counts,) and driving under the influence (DUI.) Whatcom County Corrections staff was advised of his mental health state.
Rupp called 911 at approximately 11:36 a.m. and announced he was driving to a police station to attack officers to provoke the officers to shoot him. At the time he would only tell the public safety dispatcher he was southbound on I5 near exit 261. This information was broadcast to all agencies as officer safety information.
At 11:50 a.m., he rammed into the driver’s side of a Bellingham Police Officer’s patrol SUV on Lakeway Drive near Franklin Street. The officer was standing on the sidewalk outside the patrol SUV investigating an unrelated traffic collision and speaking to the involved parties. Rupp got out of his car wielding a knife and began shouting at the officer. He also reached down an stabbed the passenger side tire of the police SUV.
The BPD officer drew her service weapon, got the collision victims out of the way, called for backup, and immediately told Rupp to drop the knife and get on the ground. While Rupp dropped the knife, he refused to obey the other instructions and shouted disconnected statements at her. The officer remained calm throughout this rapidly evolving and dangerous situation and asked Rupp how she could help him, listened to him, and acknowledged his statements. He kept shouting but began to calm down and kept his distance.
Other officers arrived and swiftly and without incident took Rupp into custody. The officer called for emergency assistance at 11:50 a.m., and Rupp was in custody at 11:53 a.m. He was taken to the police station for an interview where he cooperated with investigators.
“The quick, decisive actions and calm demeanor displayed by the officer during this chaotic scene is a true testament to the level of training and skill our officers possess,” said Bellingham Police Chief Rebecca Mertzig. “I am very proud of our officers today and every day. It is another example of the dangerous and complicated situations we encounter each shift. This incredibly difficult and rapidly evolving incident was resolved swiftly and safely without injury to the officers or the suspect.” Bellingham Police Department Lieutenant Claudia Murphy (October 1, 2022)