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Man reported to have tossed large fireworks while fleeing law enforcement

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Deb Slater told Whatcom News via email that deputies responded to Lange Road about 11:30pm on Friday, August 6th due to a report of a vehicle parked in the middle of the road. They arrived to find a man sitting behind the wheel and the vehicle running. Deputies determined the man was having a “mental health or drug-induced episode.

Deputies determined the man had warrants for his arrest and told him he was under arrest. He became agitated and refused to get out of the vehicle. Instead, he drove away.

The deputies did not have probable cause to pursue the fleeing vehicle but did begin following from a distance.

According to unconfirmed radio transmissions at the time, a deputy reported fireworks had caused a fire next to the road at the intersection of Northwest Drive and Slater Road and Bellingham Fire Department personnel were dispatched to that location.

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They followed the vehicle as it made its way to I-5 and headed northbound from Slater Road. Large ignited fireworks were seen being tossed from the vehicle and cause damage to at least 1 vehicle, Slater said.

Slater said deputies followed the vehicle onto Grandview Road and saw it drive through a stop sign and in the oncoming lane. The vehicle headed north on Kickerville Road and was located in a ditch near the intersection with Loomis Trail Road.

The driver, identified as John M Ashton, age 43 and of Bellingham, was found hiding in nearby woods and taken into custody.

Ashton was arrested and booked into the Whatcom County Jail on August 7th charged with suspicion of the following.

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  • Attempting to elude a police vehicle
  • Reckless driving
  • Reckless endangerment
  • Resisting arrest
  • Warrant – operating a motor vehicle without an ignition interlock
  • Warrant – driving under the influence
  • Warrant – failure to appear in court regarding 2nd degree assault charges (bond forfeited)

Ashton was released from custody on August 8th after posting bond.

Ashton was out of custody while facing 3 counts of 2nd degree assault with a deadly weapon in Whatcom County Superior Court related to an incident in a retail business’ parking lot in April when Ashton was seen on security video attempting to run over a man. Ashton told police the man was trying to slash his tires. He had been released from custody after posting a $1,500 cash bond. That bond was forfeited and an arrest warrant issued after he failed to appear for a court hearing on July 19th.

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