BELLINGHAM - A young man evaded police for a half-hour Wednesday afternoon, March 12, in a pursuit near Western Washington University's south campus.
Campus police pulled over a red 1995 Lexus for a routine traffic stop at 12:20 p.m. near Sehome High School. As the officer walked to the car, he noticed a rifle bag in the back seat, said WWU spokesman Paul Cocke.
That's when Kyle Matthew Gray - described by witnesses as "dressed like Justin Bieber," with a backwards cap, an earring in his left ear and a Chicago Bulls No. 23 tank top - sped off on Bill McDonald Parkway, then turned left toward Happy Valley, according to police.
Gray's girlfriend owns the Lexus. She sat in the passenger seat Wednesday.
Police chased the car toward Old Fairhaven Parkway, at speeds up to 55 mph on residential streets. The car briefly headed west to the Fairhaven neighborhood but circled back to Happy Valley. Ten minutes into the chase, officers lost sight of the Lexus near Happy Valley Elementary School. Dispatchers told school officials to lock down the building. (It reopened minutes later.)
Gray abandoned the car at a dead end on Mill Avenue and ran through a thick grove of trees. The girlfriend, however, stayed in her car until officers caught up.
Two rifles were recovered from the Lexus, according to police.
Officers called Gray's cellphone and tried to convince him to surrender. Meanwhile, a worker at Whatcom Hospice, on Douglas Avenue, called police after seeing a young man in search of a place to hide. Officers arrested Gray, 20, on suspicion of eluding police. He could face more charges as the investigation unfolds.
Last month Gray had been released from King County Jail on $10,000 bail in a stolen firearm case.
Gray and his girlfriend, 22, had been cited together in August by Bellingham police on a charge of stealing a shotgun grip cover and semiautomatic gun magazines from Yeager's Sporting Goods, said Bellingham Police Lt. Bob Vander Yacht.
In that case, the girlfriend's charges were dismissed at her first hearing in Municipal Court; Gray requested a deferred sentence. Because of that case and other recent theft charges, he has about three months of jail time, plus fines, that could be imposed at the discretion of a judge.
Gray moved here from Anchorage, Alaska. On his Facebook page he claims he studies at Western Washington University. But school officials said there's no record of him attending.