BELLINGHAM - A Ferndale man was arrested on suspicion of ramming three police cars in a slow, winding chase through busy Bellingham streets Thursday afternoon, Sept. 20.
A patrol sergeant in an SUV tried to pull over an old blue Volvo 244 at 1:40 p.m., after he saw it drive over a sidewalk and a strip of grass along Bellis Fair Parkway, said Bellingham police spokesman Mark Young.
The driver kept the Volvo crawling along at a speed of 5 to 30 mph and patiently led the sergeant in a circle: slinking north on Cordata Parkway, ignoring a traffic light at West Bakerview Road, turning onto Westerly Road and doing a loop in the parking lot of the Department of Licensing, then heading back to Cordata and hanging a right on Kellogg Road.
Motorcycle cops and more squad cars joined in the chase. They couldn't box him in.
Lauren Raine, a Western Washington University student on her way home from a bike ride, saw the "dingy" Volvo rolling into and out of the DOL parking lot at a snail's pace - maybe 15 mph. She said the driver, identified by police as Brandan Jayson Santamarina, was flashing a peace sign out the driver's side window. His hair was shaggy.
Santamarina, 20, took a right onto Meridian Street before turning into the parking lot of Olive Garden, where he rammed the sergeant's SUV, Young said.
Then he took another turn onto Meridian - rolling south in the northbound lane, but without striking any other cars - and turned onto Telegraph Road.
By the time he reached James Street, near Kmart, police had set up spike strips in the road. The strips struck all four tires, flattening them.
But the Volvo kept trucking.
Santamarina went into the Kmart parking lot and rammed a patrol car, then rammed another sergeant's SUV. He got out of the car and "passively resisted," Young said, by trying to walk from the scene.
Young emphasized: Santamarina didn't run. He walked.
He was arrested in the parking lot. He refused to give his name and "wasn't talking," Young said. Officers figured out who he was by taking a look at his driver's license.
A breathalyzer test did not detect any alcohol, Young said. Police are trying to find out if he was using drugs. A cursory check didn't show he was wanted for any crimes.
Santamarina was arrested on investigation of felony eluding and three counts of assault on a police officer, also a felony.
No officers suffered serious injuries.
All three police vehicles must be inspected before they can go back into commission. The SUV struck in the Kmart lot suffered the worst damage. As of Thursday, police didn't have a property damage estimate.
Santamarina, who lives in the Ferndale area, has no court record in Washington state. On his Facebook page, he says he was born in Las Vegas. He graduated from Meridian High School in 2010.
The total distance of the chase was about three miles. Speeds never exceeded 30 mph.
UPDATE: Brandan Jayson Santamarina is 20 years old, not 21 as the story previous stated.
MAP OF CHASE SCENE
Reach CALEB HUTTON at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2276.