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Man pleads guilty to charges stemming from a pursuit that ended with crashing into and entering a Bellingham mall with a hatchet

Damage visible after a man attempted to elude law enforcement and then drove into glass doors at a Bellingham mall (March 12, 2022). Photo courtesy of the Bellingham Police Department

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — David Arthur Anderson, age 32 and of Bellingham, recently pled guilty to multiple charges resulting from a March 12th incident involving multiple law enforcement agencies beginning with a pursuit that ended with Anderson driving into the doors at a mall entrance and him walking inside and doing significant damage with a hatchet.

Sentencing was handed down in Whatcom County Superior Court on August 18th after Anderson’s plea was accepted for 2 counts of 2nd degree assault with a deadly weapon, 1st degree malicious mischief with damage exceeding $5,000 and attempting to elude a police vehicle.

Anderson was sentenced to 17 months in custody for the 2 counts of assault along with 18 months in community custody. He was also sentenced to 12 and 6 months in custody for the charges of malicious mischief and attempting to elude, respectively. All sentences are to be served concurrently with credit for time already spent in custody.

Washington State Patrol (WSP) troopers were dispatched about 10pm, Saturday, March 12th, after their dispatch center received multiple reports concerning a northbound white Ford Ranger pickup on I-5 in Skagit County. The driver was reported to be brandishing a hatchet and throwing garbage at other motorists while preventing vehicles from passing and a traffic backup was forming.

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A WSP trooper in an unmarked patrol vehicle observed the pickup by the N Lake Samish interchange about 10:30pm and got behind it. The pickup made maneuvers that prevented the trooper from passing as had been reported.

The trooper activated his vehicle’s emergency lights in an attempt to pull the pickup over but was ignored. The pickup exited at the W Bakerview Road interchange and headed eastbound on W Bakerview Road where 2 Bellingham Police Department (BPD) patrol SUVs joined the pursuit with their emergency lights activated.

The pursuit, mostly at speed limit speeds, continued southbound on Meridian Street and it was reported the pickup failed to stop at a red light at W Illinois Street. The pickup was reported to have driven past the Bellingham Police Department and was making its way through downtown Bellingham.

According to BPD Lieutenant Claudia Murphy, “A BPD officer in his car (with emergency lights on) was stopped on Cornwall near E. Champion. Anderson drove close to the patrol car, slowed down, and swung a large axe clearly trying to hit the officer in the driver’s seat. Anderson struck the patrol SUV several times, narrowly missing the officer, who drove away quickly.”

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Murphy said Anderson again drove directly into the path of officers, swinging his axe out the window of the pickup in an apparent attempt to strike officers with it.

The pickup then returned to the northbound lanes of I-5 from Lakeway Drive with law enforcement still in pursuit.

The pickup returned to northbound I-5 from Lakeway Drive, exited at the Meridian Street interchange and continued to the mall parking lot on Bellis Fair Parkway. Anderson then drove the pickup into glass doors at the east end of the mall food court area at about 10:50pm. The mall had been closed to the public since 8pm.

He ran into the mall where he started smashing glass doors, windows, and accessories to several stores, restaurants, and businesses inside. Officers attempted to deescalate the situation verbally and used several less lethal force options, including impact munitions (flexible batons,) chemical irritants and taser applications. None seemed to have the desired effect initially. Eventually, Anderson dropped the axe and officers were able to overcome his physical resistance and handcuff him. Bellingham Police Department Lieutenant Claudia Murphy (March 13, 2022)

Anderson caused significant damage to more than 11 stores in the mall. He also destroyed the eastern entry way to the mall’s food court. The initial damage estimates were $100,000 for the mall properties alone.

While being medically assessed, Anderson kicked a gurney at a Bellingham Fire Department firefighter, hitting the firefighter in the knee, knocking him backward and causing pain. Anderson was then transported to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries and to be monitored for suspected substance abuse.

One Comment

  1. Leslie Sonnergren August 26, 2022

    Has the whole world gone mad?

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