4-hour manhunt ends in one arrest, one suspect still sought

KENDALL - A four-hour manhunt ended Wednesday evening, Sept. 15, with Whatcom County sheriff’s deputies arresting a suspect - but not the one they were looking for originally.

Deputies chased down Shawn P. O’Bryan, 25, in a field west of a tennis court at a dead end off Balfour Valley Road about 6:30 p.m. and arrested him on outstanding warrants and several other charges, sheriff’s Lt. Kevin Hester said.

The incident began about 2:30 p.m., when deputies surrounded a home in the 8300 block of Golden Valley Boulevard, Hester said.

They had received a tip that another suspect, who was not identified, was at the home. He is wanted on several outstanding warrants and evidence that would substantiate drug-dealing charges, Hester said.

They also believed he possessed firearms and had eluded police in the past because he knows he’s likely going back to prison when caught, Hester said.

Deputies saw O’Bryan leave the home, and he matched the description of the other suspect, Hester said.

Believing O’Bryan was the other suspect, they moved in to arrest him, but he fled on foot, setting off a hunt that involved multiple deputies, the Sheriff’s Office special response team, which was training that day and was available for duty, federal agents, Washington State Patrol troopers and members of other police agencies, Hester said.

Sheriff’s deputies set up roadblocks and restricted travel, including for school buses.

A helicopter from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Division spotted O’Bryan on Balfour Valley Road at about 6:15 p.m. and led deputies to his area.

A police dog found him in woods and brush, and he was arrested. After arresting O’Bryan, the deputies realized he was not the suspect they wanted, Hester said.

O’Bryan told them the suspect was at the house when the pursuit started, but deputies believe he may have eluded them again, Hester said.

Deputies had not arrested the other man as of 9 p.m. Wednesday. Hester did not identify him or provide a description.

O’Bryan was arrested on suspicion of obstructing officers, resisting arrest and drug possession charges, Hester said. He dropped a backpack during the chase that contained narcotics, Hester said. O’Bryan was booked into the Whatcom County Jail.

During the manhunt, the Mount Baker School District had to reroute buses carrying middle school and high school students to Kendall Elementary School because of the travel restrictions to the Columbia Valley, said Superintendent Richard Gantman.

Those students and the elementary school students were kept in the school, which contained about 600 kids on campus at one point.

Eventually the district was able to send buses on various routes to get most of the kids home, and parents were allowed to come to the school to retrieve their children, Gantman said.

Buses could not go north to the Columbia Valley because of the restrictions, which were lifted once the man was captured.

Gantman said despite the changes and huge influx of students at the elementary school, no problems were reported. Staff stayed to help watch over the kids and communicate with parents.

Deputies used the road-blocks near Kendall Elementary to search cars one by one looking for the man. The searches backed up traffic.