Man suspected of hate crime over the length of another man’s hair at Bellis Fair Mall

A 54-year-old man allegedly made derogatory comments about a victim’s appearance and sexual orientation and threatened to “skin” the victim “alive” Thursday at Bellis Fair Mall before calling a Bellingham Police officer several ethnic slurs.

Carl Dewayne Crawford was booked into Whatcom County Jail on suspicion of malicious harassment — a hate crime under Washington state law.

Officers responded to Bellis Fair Mall at 3:07 p.m. Thursday, according to the Bellingham Police log, for the report of a disturbance.

According to information provided by Lt. Claudia Murphy in an email Monday to The Bellingham Herald, an investigation discovered the incident began when Crawford asked a man if he was a girl, likely because the victim had long hair. When the victim informed Crawford that he was a man, Crawford allegedly became upset and began to berate the victim, calling him inflammatory names and telling the victim to cut his hair.

Frightened by Crawford’s comments, the victim went toward a store to avoid conflict, Murphy said, but Crawford followed and began to threaten to cut the victim’s hair, assault the victim with a shopping cart Crawford was pushing and finally to “skin” the victim “alive.”

The victim reported the incident to loss-prevention staff at the store, who reviewed security footage at the doors of the store and located Crawford, who had moved on to harassing other customers inside the store, Murphy said.

Crawford was contacted by a police officer, Murphy said, and began to use ethnic slurs to insult the officer, and he was placed under arrest.