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Sheriff’s deputy shoots at fleeing suspect, Bellingham police investigate

Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

A Whatcom County sheriff’s deputy fired at a fleeing suspect Friday night, the second shooting involving a local law-enforcement officer in less than a week.

No one was injured in the 5:45 p.m. incident and the Bellingham man was arrested on several charges, including an outstanding felony warrant, Bellingham Police said in a statement.

Whatcom County Jail records show that William David Jefferson, 35, was booked Friday on suspicion of obstructing a police officer, first-degree criminal trespass and a felony warrant for third-degree assault.

Jefferson remained in jail Monday.

Bellingham Police Lt. Claudia Murphy said the sheriff’s deputy, who wasn’t named, fired his pistol once at Jefferson and missed during a foot chase after a disturbance in the 2600 block of W. Maplewood Avenue.

That deputy was now on “modified duty” according to Sheriff’s Office policy, Murphy said.

Bellingham Police are handling the investigation, she said.

Meanwhile, Ferndale Police are investigating an incident that occurred Dec. 23 at Arroyo Park, when a sheriff’s deputy and a Bellingham officer shot and wounded Micah James Godfrey of California, who allegedly fired at them with a crossbow.

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Micah James Godfrey of California remained at Whatcom County Jail Monday on suspicion of first-degree assault and felony harassment.

Murphy said Friday’s incident began when Bellingham officers called for assistance from other law-enforcement agencies after a 911 call about a screaming, shirtless man — later identified as Jefferson — who punched the windshield of a car in a parking lot, then ran into a nearby apartment and out the back, jumping off a second-story balcony and running away from police.

Jefferson knew the people who live in the apartment and he went through their open door, but he didn’t have permission to enter, Murphy said.

Murphy said officers learned the man’s name and that records showed he had been involved in a previous chase with sheriff’s deputies.

A sheriff’s deputy responding to the incident saw Jefferson about a mile north of the initial incident, in the 4000 block of Northwest Avenue.

“Jefferson did not comply with verbal commands to surrender and reached for his belt line as if to draw a weapon,” Murphy said in the statement, which was posted at the city of Bellingham website.

“The WCSO deputy fired his weapon at Jefferson, who was not injured as a result,” Murphy said. “Jefferson then complied by getting on the ground.”

Court documents show that a warrant was issued Dec. 20 for Jefferson, after he apparently violated terms of his May sentence to two years of probation and substance abuse counseling stemming from felony convictions for trafficking stolen property, eluding a police vessel and third-degree assault.

Robert Mittendorf covers civic issues, weather, traffic and how people are coping with the high cost of housing for The Bellingham Herald. A journalist since 1984, he’s also a volunteer firefighter for South Whatcom Fire Authority.
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