Bellingham elementary school placed on ‘modified release’ after man with gun seen in neighborhood

A report of a man with a gun led to the “modified release” of students at Happy Valley Elementary School on Tuesday afternoon, police said.

The man, spotted near the intersection of 22nd Street and Douglas Avenue, was carrying an AR-15 rifle, Lt. Danette Beckley, a Bellingham police spokeswoman, said in an email.

He told police he had been shooting targets with a friend all day in Whatcom County and was walking home after being dropped off in the neighborhood, Beckley said.

Further information was not made immediately available Tuesday.

Because of the incident, administrators at Happy Valley Elementary gathered students in the school’s gym moments before their release time at 3 p.m., Bellingham Public Schools spokeswoman Jackie Brawley said via email.

Administrators then called parents to ask that they come to the gym for after-school pickup.

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan