He said his cousin owns the car he was driving, then he led cops on a chase


Bellingham Police said a Whatcom County man was arrested Monday night after he hit a vehicle, lied to and led police on a chase and fled into the woods, requiring a police dog unit to track him down.

John Neal Barber, 32, was booked on suspicion of hit and run of an attended vehicle, attempting to elude a police vehicle, reckless driving, first-degree criminal impersonation, obstructing a police officer, third-degree driving with a suspended license, and three warrants for failure to appear in court for a drug charge and two third-degree theft charges.

Police stopped Barber in the Fred Meyer parking lot on Bakerview because the vehicle he was driving came back to a registered owner with a suspended license, according to police Lt. Danette Beckley.

Barber told officers the owner of the vehicle was his cousin , but the officer recognized Barber from other cases – he matched the physical appearance of the vehicle’s registered owner, Beckley said.

While the officer was in his cruiser confirming Barber’s identity, Barber took off through the parking lot at a high-rate of speed, Beckley said.

Barber side-swiped a minivan that was driving through the parking lot and then continued westbound on Bakerview Road. At one point, he drove into oncoming traffic and passed three vehicles while attempting to elude officers, Beckley said.

Barber lost control of the car while passing Bennett Drive, near the Bellingham International Airport, and crashed into a fenced retention pond. Barber crawled out of the nearly submerged vehicle and ran south into the woods, Beckley said.

A police dog tracked Barber, where they found him hiding in the woods, Beckley said.

Barber has a previous felony conviction in Whatcom County for second-degree burglary, and had warrants out for his arrest for criminal impersonation, bail jumping and seven felony drug charges, according to court records.

Denver Pratt: 360-715-2236, @DenverPratt