Downtown Bellingham fights drew entire police force on duty

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDSeptember 9, 2013 

BELLINGHAM - An "alcohol-fueled" crowd erupted into a series of violent incidents in downtown streets early Sunday, Sept. 8, including a hit-and-run, gunshots fired in the air and numerous brawls, police said.

More than a dozen police reports were filed for events that happened between 1:30 and 3 a.m. within the couple blocks that contain Bellingham's busiest nightlife.

Tacoma man Dominic Dajuan Dixon, 23, who was originally booked on suspicion of discharging a firearm during Sunday's events, remained in Whatcom County Jail Monday for investigation of first-degree assault and drive-by shooting.

He made his first court appearance Monday afternoon. His bail was set at $300,000, and remained unchanged after pleas from relatives to release him because he is a father of two and attends technical college.

Shortly before 2 a.m. officers responding to fights on Holly Street and Railroad Avenue heard a shot in the 1200 block of Railroad, Bellingham Police Sgt. Jason Monson said.

The police saw Dixon pointing a .45-caliber handgun at the face of another man, Aaron A. Towns, Monson said.

After firing in the air a second time, Dixon tossed the weapon into the backseat of a silver 2002 Jaguar SD4, Monson said. Under state law, a drive-by shooting may involve recklessly discharging a firearm near a car that was used to transport the shooter or gun to the scene.

Towns also was arrested after shouting and agitating the crowd, Monson said.

It was unclear why the fight between Dixon and Towns started.

Minutes after the shooting, officers heard a commotion in the 1300 block of Railroad. A man had confronted and accused two men of stealing his backpack and skateboard. The two proceeded to punch, kick and knock him to the street. They then got in their car, backed over him as he was lying in the street and hit a parked black Scion in the process of driving away, Monson said.

The victim was likely intoxicated and didn't want to talk to police about the incident, but stayed long enough for medics to decide he didn't have significant injuries, Monson said. Police are still looking for the white 4-door Honda Accord. Anyone with information is asked to call Bellingham Police at 360-778-8800.

All on-duty Bellingham Police officers responded to the shooting and fights, as a crowd of more than 200 hung around Railroad. Fights broke out among the bystanders, who began surrounding officers, charging at them, and refusing to leave, Monson said.

Among those arrested or cited in relation to the fighting and post-shooting chaos were: Kuljinder Singh Gandham, for disorderly conduct, Joshua L. Edwards-Walker, for disorderly conduct, and Eric Woodfork, for obstructing law enforcement.

"This was probably an alcohol-fueled event," Monson said. "It was almost like a riot was getting ready to start down there."

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Reach Samantha Wohlfeil at 360-756-2803 or samantha.wohlfeil@bellinghamherald.com.

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