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Skagit man suspected of purse theft arrested after citizens held him for Bellingham Police

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Bellingham Police were dispatched to a retail store in the 1200 block of W Bakerview Road on Sunday, January 16th, due to a report of a purse theft and a suspect being held at the store.

According to an affidavit of probable cause for arrest prepared by the Bellingham Police Department (BPD) and submitted in Whatcom County Superior Court by prosecutors, when officers arrived, they found the man being restrained by store customers.

The victims and witnesses told officers a woman saw a man unclipping her purse from her shopping cart and running off with it. When she yelled and chased after him, he pushed her into a store display.

Another customer also yelled and chased after the man bringing attention from other customers, one of which was able to grab the man and brought him to the ground, suffering a bite to a finger in the process of restraining him. Another customer searched the man for weapons and found a store toy in a pocket.

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When BPD officers arrived, the man provided a false name before identifying himself accurately as Garrett Paul O’Connor, age 32, of Mount Vernon.

At the time of the incident, O’Connor had an active arrest warrant after failing to appear in court where he faced a felony charge of theft of a motor vehicle. As a result of failing to appear, a bond of $5,000 was forfeited.

O’Connor was arrested and booked into the Whatcom County Jail and now faces felony charges of 1st degree robbery and 2nd degree theft as well as gross misdemeanor charges of 4th degree assault, 3rd degree theft and making a false statement to a public servant.

The affidavit included a message to the court from the arresting BPD officer asking for a high bail as it was believed O’Connor’s actions represented a danger to the community and its citizens.

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As of January 25th, O’Connor remained in custody pending being able to post $5,000 bond or $500 cash in the earlier motor vehicle theft case and $20,000 bond or $2,000 cash in the recent robbery case.

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