A 34-year-old man is in Whatcom County Jail after he allegedly stalked and threatened to assault a 19-year-old woman who went for a run with her dogs Friday afternoon in the Raptor Ridge area off Chuckanut Drive south of Bellingham.
According to a report provided by Whatcom County Undersheriff Jeff Parks, the woman said she went running at about 2:26 p.m. Friday from the North Chuckanut Trail head, when she encountered a man making his way down the same trail. About 10 minutes later, she told police she heard a branch snap behind her and turned to see the man walking quickly toward her.
The woman told police she was nervous, because it appeared that the man was trying to catch up to her, and she reportedly pulled out her pepper spray and got off the trail, allowing the man to get a distance ahead, before she continued up the trail.
According to the report, the man passed the woman a third time about 15 minutes later and was headed toward the parking lot. This time, the woman told police, one of her dogs barked at the man, and he stopped and looked at her with a blank stare, before she asked if he was all right.
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The man reportedly did not answer and made her feel anxious when he took a step toward her, getting within an estimated eight feet. The woman told police she felt it was obvious he was trying to scare or intimidate her.
The woman reportedly told the man that she would spray him with her pepper spray if he came any closer, and he replied, "Do it." The woman reportedly said it appeared the man was "sizing her up" and stared at her for 30 seconds, before she warned him twice more that she would use her pepper spray.
The woman said the man then lunged at her and began grabbing at her. She reportedly managed to spray him in the face with her pepper spray, causing him to back off, and she ran away and called 911 when she was out of his sight.
When deputies arrived, they walked the trail and found a man that matched the description provided by the woman. He reportedly told deputies that he passed the victim four times while on the trail, but denied trying to assault her.
While the deputies were taking him into custody, he allegedly put his right arm out and balled up his fists. Deputies reportedly told him to relax and unclench his fists, and he refused, tensing his body. A K-9 deputy told the man to stop resisting, and he reportedly complied a few seconds later.
The woman later identified him as the man who tried to attack her, according to the report, and Christopher Daniel Tucker was booked into jail on suspicion of stalking, fourth-degree assault and resisting arrest. As of Monday afternoon, he remained in jail.
According to court records, Tucker was previously convicted in 2017 of third-degree assault of a law enforcement officer, fourth-degree assault and harassment with a threat to kill.
The woman was not injured in the incident, but a big part of that, Parks said, was because she was prepared and kept her situational awareness.
"If (hiking or running) alone, take note, as the victim did in this case, of strange, suspicious or odd behavior and take precautions to either create distance or look for other people," Parks said. "Awareness and avoidance are important, and as this victim did, keep your composure and have a plan to disengage or protect yourself. That could consist of using or presenting a weapon, running/walking away or loudly confronting the suspect and calling for help."
Parks also advised anyone using hiking or running trails go with a partner when possible and carry a cell phone to make a call for help once they get to a safe location or create a safe distance.