BELLINGHAM - Bellingham and Western Washington University police surrounded an area near Sehome High School and the university after a botched robbery ended with a gun going off and a man slightly injured Monday afternoon, Nov. 8.
Just after 4 p.m., the man was walking on a trail west of the high school and south of the university, near 23rd Street and Douglas Avenue, when two Asian men in their 20s accosted him.
During an ensuing fight, the victim saw one of his attackers had a handgun. It went off, and the man felt something strike his head, according to police. The suspects fled north on the trail.
He apparently was struck with something other than a bullet. He was conscious and talking, and he did not want to be taken to the hospital, police said.
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It was the second gun incident in the area Monday. Late Monday morning, a woman reported an Asian male in his 20s robbed her at gunpoint in the 2500 block of Taylor Avenue.
The gunman fled in the direction of the trail where the afternoon robbery occurred. The locations are only a few blocks apart.
The woman described the robber who took her backpack as wearing a gray sweatshirt, blue jeans and a blue jacket. He was about 5-foot-8 and was clean-cut.
One of the men in the afternoon attack was similarly described. At least one of the men, and possibly both, had a handgun.
The victim in the afternoon incident also was carrying a backpack.
Sgt. David Richards said that while police couldn’t say for sure the incidents were related, he said it would be unlikely for similar crimes to be committed by armed young Asian men in the same area on the same day in Bellingham.
Police detained someone about an hour after the incident, but let him go because his long hair didn’t fit the suspect description.
Officers searched the area for hours after the 4 p.m. robbery, knocking on doors and scouring the trail. A police dog was brought in to try to sniff out the suspects, and a federal border agency helicopter searched from above.
WWU issued an alert to students and staff Monday evening about the incidents.