An 21-year-old Everson man believed to be intoxicated reportedly sexually assaulted a woman he is familiar with in front of others in a shed along East Pole Road early Tuesday before pulling a gun on them and preventing them from leaving.
The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office booked Jonathan William Howard into Whatcom County Jail on suspicion of one count of third-degree rape, three counts of felony harassment, three counts of unlawful imprisonment and one count of fourth-degree assault. Jail records show Howard was released on $10,000 bail late Tuesday.
According to the police probable cause statement provided to The Bellingham Herald by Chief Deputy Kevin Hester, deputies responded at 12:09 a.m. to a possible domestic violence call in the 1800 block of East Pole Road after the caller said they could hear several people yelling.
A second 911 call approximately nine minutes later reported that two women had run to a neighbor’s house and said that Howard, who they believed was intoxicated, had a gun and was trying to force everyone into a car.
Deputies were joined by police from Lynden and Everson and learned from witnesses that a group of people were at a shed near East Pole Road playing music and that Howard was reportedly drinking alcohol.
According to the statement, one of the witnesses said that Howard came over to her and started grabbing her breasts and reached under her shirt in front of everyone while she told him “no” and “stop.” Howard then reportedly stuck his hand inside her pants, touched her sexually and tried to pull her pants off in front of everyone, despite her continuing to tell him to stop.
Witnesses told police that others tried to intervene to get Howard to stop, which upset him and caused him to start yelling at everyone, telling them, “I’m the one in control here.” At some point during the incident, witnesses say, Howard pulled a gun from his waist and threatened to shoot himself. Witnesses said he never pointed the gun at anyone else, but threatened he would kill everyone in the room.
Howard reportedly pushed another woman who was trying to leave across the shed, causing her to fall, and witnesses say he wouldn’t allow anyone to leave for at least 20 minutes. Two the of the witness were eventually able to flee when Howard reportedly tried to get them to walk to his car, and they ran to a neighbor’s to get help after seeing Howard drive away.
Deputies later contacted Howard at his residence and took him into custody, and according to the probable cause statement, recovered a gun there.