Kendall Elementary placed in lockdown after police pursuit

Kendall Elementary School
Kendall Elementary School The Bellingham Herald file

Students at Kendall Elementary School were sheltered in place for hours Wednesday, when a car chase ended with a driver ditching the vehicle next door to the school.

A state trooper tried to pull over a driver for a seat belt violation at 10:07 a.m. on Kendall Highway, near Peaceful Valley, said Washington State Patrol Sgt. Keith Leary. The southbound driver led police on a brief pursuit, and bailed from the car by a field south of the school in the 7500 block of Eason Road.

State troopers and Whatcom County sheriff’s deputies could not find the man. He remained at-large Wednesday afternoon. The reason he fled remains unclear, though troopers suspect the car wasn’t registered to him. The car has been impounded as evidence.

A description of the man hasn’t been made public.

Law enforcement informed the school the wanted man could be within “very close proximity” to the elementary school of 430 students, said Ben Thomas, director of Finance and Operations for the Mount Baker School District.

School officials kept doors locked, in shelter-in-place mode, for the rest of Wednesday. Calls went out to parents alerting them to the situation.

Students were dismissed at the usual time of 3:30 p.m., and buses ran on schedule.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb