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15-year-old arrested in Lynden fair shootings, stabbing

LYNDEN — A 15-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder Saturday night, Aug. 20, after gunfire and a stabbing at the Northwest Washington Fair injured four people.

Police believe the violence was gang-related.

Two men and a woman were shot, and a third man was stabbed, Lynden Police Chief Jack Foster said. The victims, ages 18 to 23, were taken to St. Joseph’s hospital for treatment.

A nursing supervisor on Sunday morning said two people were treated and released, and two were in satisfactory condition, according to an Associated Press report.

Police did not release names of the suspect or the victims.

The boy, who also was arrested on two counts of first-degree assault, was booked into a juvenile detention center with bail set at $500,000, Foster said.

The violence began as a fight about 10:05 p.m. not far from the Haggen stage area and one of the main food courts. Witnesses reported hearing the pop of gunshots, then seeing the fighters run off.

One man was clutching his stomach area. A bullet apparently went in his abdomen and then passed through him, witnesses said.

There was more violence a short distance away, but it wasn’t clear who was injured where. Police did not release details.

Witnesses reported seeing police tackle the 15-year-old as he headed in the direction of the main carnival shortly after the initial shots.

The shooting happened during the final hour of the fair’s weeklong run, after most people had departed, but before some of the late-night attractions, like the carnival, had shut down. Police cordoned a large area of the main food courts for at least two hours.

Fair Manager Jim Baron said it was the first time a shooting has happened in the Northwest Washington Fair’s history. Versions of the fair date back more than 100 years.

“It’s a bummer that it got marred by that,” he said Sunday morning, “but I don’t think it takes away from the fact that we had a great fair this year.”

Sunday afternoon, Baron issued a press release thanking the Lynden police and other security and fire personnel for their quick work to catch the suspect and protect the innocent fairgoers.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of the incident and also to the bystanders who experienced the shock of observing it by being nearby,” he said in the news release.

Baron also noted that fair officials will work with police and are conducting their own investigation.

“We will carefully review all our safety and security procedures, the strength and visibility of our security forces, and make any changes deemed necessary to ensure a safe and secure environment,” he said in the release.

“We also commit to making publicly available on our website the findings of our investigation and any resulting changes we implement to help ensure that such incidents don’t repeat themselves,” he said.

Since Saturday was the final day of this year’s six-day fair, officials will have a year to figure out and make any changes before the event in August 2012.

STATEMENT FROM THE FAIR

Statement issued Sunday afternoon, Aug. 21, by Fair Manager Jim Baron regarding Saturday’s violence at the Northwest Washington Fair:

“The Northwest Washington Fair has enjoyed 100 years of family entertainment without any serious security incident until this past Saturday evening,” said Jim Baron, general manager of the fair presented Aug. 15-20 in Lynden, Wash. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of the incident and also to the bystanders who experienced the shock of observing it by being nearby.

“We are conducting our own investigation of the incident and working closely with law enforcement in their investigation. We are absolutely intent in maintaining the Fair's reputation for the best family entertainment opportunity in the region. We will carefully review all our safety and security procedures, the strength and visibility of our security forces, and make any changes deemed necessary to ensure a safe and secure environment.

“We also commit to making publicly available on our website the findings of our investigation and any resulting changes we implement to help ensure that such incidents don’t repeat themselves.

“We are grateful that Lynden Police Department officers, who were patrolling the fairgrounds, quickly apprehended a suspect and protected thousands of other fairgoers. We’re also thankful that our private security team helped in controlling the crowd at the scene and contributing to the fast response of emergency medical personnel from the Lynden Fire Department, which also has personnel here during the fair.”

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