Top crime stories of 2016: Man awaiting trial in connection with October late-night sword fight

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A sword fight ensued following an altercation between two men outside the McDonald’s at King Street in Bellingham on the night of Oct. 16.

The fight ended with a cut to one man’s hand, and police found and arrested the other, Brandon Lee C. Gaona, 26, the next day.

The victim, who had been carrying both swords, told police he and Gaona, who is homeless, had been searching the area for cigarette butts to smoke when Gaona asked to see one of the swords, according to charging papers. When the man drew one from its sheath, Gaona began acting strangely, “wigging out” and demanding to hold the weapon, the man reported.

Gaona then shoved the man to the ground, according to charging papers, and punched him in the face as he tried to get back up. Gaona then picked up the sword, the papers say.

When the man got to his feet, he drew the other sword, and the fight ensued. Both men struck the blades together several times before Gaona hit the man’s hand, leaving a cut, charging papers say. He then ran from the area.

Officers, after taking descriptions from witnesses, tracked down Gaona the next day, and found a black sword in a cart he was pushing. He admitted to being in a sword fight the night before, according to charging papers. He said he was acting in self defense.

Gaona was charged with first-degree robbery on Oct. 20, according to court documents. He’s awaiting trial. Proceedings are delayed as he awaited a mental-health evaluation from Western State Hospital.

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan