Man dies a week after he was assaulted near Drop-In Center for homeless in Bellingham

William D. Davis, 52, died Tuesday, after he was assaulted Feb. 25 on the sidewalk outside The Lighthouse Mission’s Drop-In Center on West Holly Street in Bellingham.
William D. Davis, 52, died Tuesday, after he was assaulted Feb. 25 on the sidewalk outside The Lighthouse Mission’s Drop-In Center on West Holly Street in Bellingham. The Bellingham Herald file

The man who was hospitalized after he was assaulted last week on the sidewalk outside the Lighthouse Mission Ministry’s Drop-In Center, an overnight emergency shelter, has died.

William D. Davis, 52, died Tuesday, according to Whatcom County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Evan Jones.

“We’re very saddened by what happened and our staff was there visiting him daily in the hospital all the way to the end,” Lighthouse Mission Ministries Executive Director Hans Erchinger-Davis told The Bellingham Herald. “It’s a painful thing for us because we cared about him.”

Clint Ray Bowen, 47, is charged with second-degree assault stemming from a Feb. 25 incident that occurred outside the Drop-In Center.

Jones said that charging documents, which were originally filed on Thursday, will be amended shortly. The original charges included aggravating circumstances because “the victim’s injuries substantially exceed the level of bodily harm necessary to satisfy the elements of the offense.”

According to information provided by Lt. Claudia Murphy, police responded at approximately 9:10 p.m. Feb. 25 to the Drop-In Center for homeless people at 1013 West Holly St. to investigate the report of an assault that had just occurred and arrived to find Davis lying on the ground, unconscious and having a citizen perform CPR on him.

Officers took over lifesaving efforts on Davis until Bellingham Fire and Aid units arrived and took over CPR, according to charging documents, but they could not locate a pulse for Davis. After approximately 10 to 15 minutes of CPR, Davis’ pulse returned and he was transported to the St. Joseph hospital emergency department.

According to the charging documents, as officers were arriving on scene, they saw Bowen running toward the Lighthouse Mission and flag down an officer and tell them that Davis had swung at him, so he knocked him out.

But a nearby citizen pointed at Bowen and said, “that’s him,” documents state, and other witnesses said Bowen sucker punched Davis with an uppercut to the face after Bowen threatened to head butt others over cigarettes. Bowen’s punch reportedly caused Davis to fall to the ground and hit his head, and he was not responsive after he hit the ground.

Surveillance video from the Drop-In Center also sowed Bowen throw a punch that caused Davis to fall to the ground, charging documents state.

Erchinger-Davis said Davis’ death is the first he is aware of at the Drop-In Center due to an assault.

As previously reported by The Bellingham Herald in March of 2018, 49-year-old Robert R. Gagnon died while in police custody outside the Drop-In Center due to cardiac complications caused by acute methamphetamine use. Erchinger-Davis said there has been one other non-suspicious death at the center in the middle of the night.

“It’s important to note a lot of the people who come to us for help have considerable behavior challenges ... so we feel very fortunate that we’ve had so few incidents,” Erchinger-Davis said.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.
Reporter Denver Pratt joined The Bellingham Herald in 2017 and covers courts and criminal and social justice. She has worked in Montana, Florida and Virginia.