BELLINGHAM, Wash. — A Bellingham man ended up in the hospital with injuries and was facing multiple felony charges after a slow-speed pursuit followed by breaking into a Bellingham mall while armed with a hatchet.
Washington State Patrol (WSP) Trooper Jacob Kennett told Whatcom News they were dispatched about 10pm, Saturday, March 12th, to multiple reports of a white Ford Ranger pickup northbound 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 backup was forming.
A WSP trooper in an unmarked patrol vehicle observed the Ford by the N Lake Samish interchange about 10:30pm and positioned behind it. The Ford 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 Ford over. Instead, the Ford continued north on I-5 at the speed limit.
According to radio transmissions by WSP at the time, the Ford exited at the Sunset Drive interchange and then returned to the northbound lanes of I-5. It continued at the speed limit and exited at the Northwest Drive interchange, not stopping at the stop sign at the end of the off-ramp and then returned to northbound I-5.
The Ford 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 Ford failed to stop at a red light at Cordata Parkway.
The pursuit, mostly at speed limit speeds, continued southbound on Meridian Street and it was reported the Ford failed to stop at a red light at W Illinois Street. The Ford 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. [The driver] drove close to the patrol car, slowed down, and swung a large axe clearly trying to hit the officer in the driver’s seat. [He] struck the patrol SUV several times, narrowly missing the officer, who drove away quickly.”
The Ford then headed north on Cornwall Avenue and made a U-turn and drove directly into the path of the pursuing law enforcement vehicles. Murphy said he drove directly into the path of the officers, swinging his axe out the window of the Ford in an apparent attempt to strike officers with it.
A BPD officer laid down spike strips near Cornwall Avenue and York Street. The Ford barely missed striking the BPD patrol SUV to avoid running over the spike strips according to Murphy. He then proceeded to Lakeway from Ellis Street, at which point collided with another motorist.
The Ford then returned to the northbound lanes of I-5 from Lakeway Drive with law enforcement still in pursuit.
The Ford exited at the Meridian Street interchange and continued to the mall parking lot on Bellis Fair Parkway. Kennett told Whatcom News the Ford was then intentionally driven 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.
Kennett said the driver left the Ford and entered the food court area while carrying a hatchet. Murphy said in a press release, “He aggressively swung the axe at the glass doors and gained entry. He ran into the mall where he started smashing glass doors, windows, and accessories to several stores, restaurants, and businesses inside.”
Kennett said he appeared to have cut himself in the process of doing the damage.
Law enforcement followed the driver into the mall and informed him he was under arrest and instructed him to drop the axe. Instead, he continued to do damage while refusing to comply with any of the officers’ commands.
Murphy said, “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.”
Kennett said the man was taken into custody about 11pm.
The man was taken outside the mall to receive medical attention for minor injuries sustained.
While being medically assessed, he kicked a gurney at a Bellingham Fire Department firefighter, hitting the firefighter in the knee, knocking him backward and causing pain.
The man, identified by Kennett as David Anderson, age 32, of Bellingham was then transported to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries and to be monitored for suspected substance abuse.
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.
He is expected to be booked into Whatcom County Jail after being medically cleared and released from the hospital.
WSP charged Anderson with driving under the influence, reckless driving and felony attempting to elude a police vehicle.
BPD charged Anderson with1st degree burglary, 3 counts of 1st degree assault, 3rd degree assault, 1st degree malicious mischief, 2nd degree malicious mischief, attempting to elude a police vehicle, hit and run of an attended vehicle with damage, resisting arrest and tampering with a fire alarm.
Kennett also added that Anderson had a dog in the Ford and that the friendly dog remained in the pickup during the entire incident.
This story was updated at 3:30pm to include information provided by the BPD.