Bellingham man arrested for allegedly pointing rifle at driver, confronting homeowner

Here’s what the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office does

The Whatcom County Sheriff's Office enforces the law in the unincorporated areas of Whatcom County as well as on the county's waterways.
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The Whatcom County Sheriff's Office enforces the law in the unincorporated areas of Whatcom County as well as on the county's waterways.

A 31-year-old Bellingham man has been arrested for allegedly pointing a rifle at a driver and confronting a homeowner in two separate incidents on Silver Lake Road on Tuesday, June 4.

Nicholas Sean Patrick Burns was booked into Whatcom County Jail, where he remained on Thursday, June 6.

Here’s how events unfolded north of Maple Falls, according to information released by the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call around 6:45 a.m. Tuesday about a man with an AK-47-style rifle who had confronted a homeowner in the 9500 block of Silver Lake Road.

The homeowner said he saw a man dressed in camouflage get into his unlocked vehicle, which was parked in his driveway. When the homeowner confronted the man, he noticed the rifle strapped to the man’s chest.

The man yelled at the homeowner that he’d better “watch out” and then walked away toward Silver Lake Road.

A short time later, a second man called 911 to report that a subject stood in the middle of the road, pointed a rifle at his vehicle and motioned for the driver to stop. The motorist accelerated and drove around the person. As he drove away, the motorist told deputies that he saw the subject bring the rifle up in a two-hand shooter’s stance and point it at the vehicle.

Deputies found the suspect near the entrance to Silver Lake Park. He still had the rifle, which was slung over his shoulder. He initially refused to comply with their orders and started to walk away before deciding to put the rifle on the ground. He was taken into custody without further incident.

The man, identified as Burns, was booked into jail on suspicion of unlawful possession of a firearm, first-degree assault and vehicle prowl.

Sheriff Bill Elfo said the events “had the potential to end very badly.”

“Our deputies train for incidents like this and I am proud they were able to resolve it without injury to anyone,” Elfo said in a release.

Burns isn’t allowed to possess firearms, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Burns was out on bond pending trial for allegedly delivering a controlled substance and possessing a stolen firearm in connection with a Sept. 1 incident at Whatcom Falls Park in Bellingham, where he was reportedly found naked and allegedly fired a gun.

Kie Relyea has been a reporter at The Bellingham Herald since 1997 and currently writes about social services and recreation in Whatcom County. She started her career in 1991 as a reporter and editor in Northern California.