He’s facing 12 years or more in prison for a $25 hat


A 21-year-old man is facing felony charges in connection with an alleged attack that prompted Western Washington University officials to issue a student alert last weekend.

Owen Dean Allen was arrested Tuesday on charges of first-degree robbery, felony harassment and third-degree malicious mischief stemming from an incident Friday evening just north of the WWU campus, said Bellingham Police Lt. Don Almer.

Allen remained in Whatcom County Jail on Wednesday.

Almer said police were in the 1100 block of East Sunset Drive about 1:20 p.m. Tuesday when they saw a man who matched a sketch of the suspect in a strong-arm robbery that occurred about 5:30 p.m. Friday in the 600 block of East Laurel Street, near the intersection with High Street.

“(Victim) stated they had been walking northbound on High Street near Laurel Park when they were ‘sucker punched’ and assaulted,” Almer said. “The suspect took the victim’s hat after the assault.”

Almer said detectives contacted witnesses and developed probable cause for Allen’s arrest. He said the hat was described as “Patagonia style” and valued at $25.

Shortly after the incident, WWU officials sent a text message to students and staff, followed by an email describing the incident.

What might have been a misdemeanor theft charge escalated to robbery when the suspect punched the person with the hat, Almer said. First-degree robbery is a class A felony with a prison sentence of 3 to 12 years or more, according to 2016 Washington State Adult Sentencing Guidelines Manual.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty