Western Washington University Police are investigating a report of a man who hid in shower inside a women’s bathroom at a residence hall on campus over the weekend, according to a Western advisory email sent out Monday afternoon.
Two female Western students reported the incident to police around 3:58 a.m. Sunday – they said the man was hiding in the women’s bathroom on the second floor of the Ridgeway Kappa residence hall. One of the female students entered the bathroom and saw the man crouching in the shower with no water running, and she ran, according to the alert.
The other student told police she saw the man exit the bathroom, walking briskly.
The man was described as a white with dark brown hair, stubby facial hair, 6 feet tall, and about 220 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gray t-shirt, gray sweatpants and white socks, but no shoes.
University police were not able to find him. The women did not know the man and it is unknown whether he was a Western student or not.
WWU spokesman Paul Cocke said he was unsure whether the incident was related to the one on Friday when a man exposed himself at the Ridgeway Gamma residence hall to a nearby woman, the other two occurrences last week, or any of the other numerous incidents near Western, the Columbia, York and Sehome neighborhoods, or the cases from early 2017.
“We want our campus community to call police when they see anything that could be suspicious,” Cocke said. “We appreciate students letting us know about this guy in the bathroom and we appreciate the student who told us about the guy who exposed himself on Friday. She did the exact right thing. … She called police, she did exactly what she was supposed to do.”
Bellingham Police have investigated at least 14 or more complaints of voyeurism or indecent exposure in the last few months, mostly around Western, and have yet to develop a suspect.
Some of the cases show similarities, such as the suspect exposing himself or masturbating in a public place. In other instances, the suspect attracted the attention of people inside a home and exposed himself near a door or window.
In all cases, the suspect was a white man in his 20s. He’s always gone before police arrive.
Bellingham Police Lt. Danette Beckley said detectives are exploring the connections between the incidents, and noted that while there are similarities, there could be more than one person committing the crimes.
Police are increasing patrols, particularly around the residence halls, Cocke said.
“Our biggest concern is safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors,” Cocke said. “We want students to access this information and understand how to be safe on and off campus. Western has a very safe campus but things do occasionally happen and when they do, we want people to be aware of how to be safe. If you see something of concern, contact University Police.”
Anyone who has information can call Western Washington University Police at 3911 or 911, anonymously at 360-650-7233. University public safety assistants, or “Greencoats”, are available to escort students or others on campus during evening hours by calling 360-650-3555.
Tips can also be sent to Bellingham Police Detective Sue Howell at 360-778-8682, or anonymously at 360-778-8611, or online at cob.org/tips.
List of the most recent lewd incidents:
▪ Oct. 29: A man was hiding in a shower in a women’s bathroom in a residence hall on Western Washington University’s campus. Two women saw him.
▪ Oct. 27: A man tried to enter a residence hall on Western Washington University’s campus, but couldn’t, so he exposed himself to a woman nearby.
▪ Oct. 25: A man was masturbating outside the basement window of a home in the 1000 block of North Garden Street.
▪ Oct. 24: A man was seen masturbating in Laurel Park in the Sehome neighborhood.
▪ Oct. 14: A man was masturbating on the back porch of a home in the 1200 block of North Garden Street.
▪ Oct. 13: A man wearing a tiger mask and dark clothing was seen masturbating outside the window of a home in the 300 block of Gladstone Street. The man knocked on the window a couple times to make sure the resident could see what he was doing.
▪ Sept. 26: A neighbor reported a male was using a phone to record or photograph his neighbor from outside the bathroom window of a home in the 2600 block of Peabody Street.
▪ Early September: Five voyeurism incidents occurred near Western, in the 800-1000 blocks of East Maple, Billy Frank Jr. and High streets, as well as an occurrence in the 1300 block of Franklin Street. Most of the incidents took place between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.
▪ Early 2017: Five cases of voyeurism within a week happened near Western, mostly in the York and Sehome neighborhoods. A male was reported to have shined a flashlight or phone into women’s windows.