BELLINGHAM, Wash. — A man was arrested today and charged with 2nd degree robbery after an incident at a Bellis Fair Mall retail business.
About 9:30am today, September 8th, a man walked into the business and left with merchandise from the store stuffed in a duffel bag also taken from the store. The man left without making any attempt to pay according to an email from Bellingham Police Department (BPD) Lieutenant Claudia Murphy to Whatcom News. When confronted by store employees who attempted to stop the suspect after he left, he pulled out a can of pepper spray and threatened the employees with it as he fled.
Employees contacted What-Comm 911 and provided a description of the suspect which was passed on to responding Bellingham Police officers via radio.
As other BPD officers came into the area, a BPD traffic officer saw a man matching the description and asked him to stop walking so the officer could determine whether this was the involved suspect. But the man kept walking. Under the new state laws, the officer could not detain the man until confirming he was the robbery suspect. So the officer and other officers followed the male and noted where he disappeared into a nearby wooded area.
Another officer responded to the business and spoke to employees. Based on their information, police were able to determined the person seen by the traffic officer was the robbery suspect. BPD K-9 Rudy and his partner were called out to begin a track and K-9 Rudy located the suspect inside a tent in the wooded area. The robbery suspect was compliant and able to be taken into custody by officers without incident. The man still had the can of pepper spray in his possession.
Murphy said, as of late today, officers were still on scene while applying for a search warrant for the tent in order to retrieve the merchandise taken, which could be seen through an open flap of the tent.
It is estimated the stolen merchandise is worth at least $300.
The suspect provided a name, but officers were unsure if it was the proper name and are waiting for booking and fingerprinting verification before releasing a name.