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Civilian steps in to help Bellingham Police catch arson suspect

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Bellingham Police Department (BPD) officers were in foot pursuit of an arson suspect when a passerby stepped into the path of the fleeing suspect so that he could be caught and placed under arrest.

On Thursday, July 7th, at approximately 10:55pm BPD officers responded to the 1300 block of N State Street due to reports of arsons at 2 separate businesses according to BPD Spokesperson Lieutenant Claudia Murphy.

A witness reported seeing a person start a fire in a plastic dumpster which was touching a wall to an occupied business. The person was seen removing burning refuse from the dumpster and tossing it toward the wall of the business.

The witness also saw the suspect start a fire in a planter box, which was touching a wall to a second occupied business.

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Both fires were extinguished by Bellingham Fire Department firefighters.

The suspect was told by officers he was not free to leave but he fled on foot heading west on E Holly Street and fell off a retaining wall and kept running. The officers continued their foot pursuit and with the assistance of a passerby who stepped into the path of the fleeing suspect, he was caught and placed under arrest.

A search of the suspect, identified as Michael Alan Klepper, age 24, uncovered a concealed pistol. He was found to not possess a valid concealed pistol license.

Klepper was booked into Whatcom County Jail and charged with suspicion of 2 counts of 1st degree arson, carrying a concealed pistol without a license and obstructing a law enforcement officer.

Klepper made a preliminary appearance in Whatcom County Superior Court on July 8th and bail was set at $20,000 bond or $2,000 cash.

As of July 9th, Klepper remained in custody at the jail.


  1. John Carpenter July 9, 2022

    Bellingham seems to be attracting the best of the best

  2. Cynthia Bosch July 10, 2022

    So this guy can be bailed out on $2,000 deposit of his $20,000 bail. There are those awaiting trial in jail with higher bonds for lengthy waiting periods on much higher bonds who are innocent until proven guilty, who unfortunately were at the crime but not a willingly part of it.
    This arsonist, caught in the act, who easily could have killed someone we ho may have been in the building gets out of jail on $2000?!
    I don’t understand our systems logic??

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