Crime

Woman allegedly used racial slurs about 2 passengers, then took a swing at WTA driver

How to pay to ride Whatcom Transportation Authority buses

Here are tips on how to pay your fare when riding on Whatcom Transportation Authority buses in Whatcom County, Wash. There are several different options.
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Here are tips on how to pay your fare when riding on Whatcom Transportation Authority buses in Whatcom County, Wash. There are several different options.

Bellingham police arrested a 51-year-old Bellingham woman on Wednesday, July 17, after she allegedly made racial slurs toward two passengers on a WTA bus and assaulted the female bus driver in late June.

Julie Lynn Kirkham was booked into Whatcom County Jail on suspicion of third-degree assault and a 2018 harassment warrant out of Bellingham, and jail records show she’s being held in lieu $2,100 bail. Kirkham also was cited for unlawful bus conduct, Lt. Claudia Murphy told The Bellingham Herald.

At approximately 8 a.m. on June 26, Murphy said Kirkham boarded the WTA bus and sat behind a male passenger and his grandson. Shortly afterward the passenger approached the bus driver and said Kirkham was using racial slurs about him.

The bus driver reportedly asked Kirkham to change seats, which she argued about, but eventually did, taking a seat behind a female passenger. Shortly after, that passenger also notified the bus driver that Kirkham was using racial slurs toward her, Murphy said.

The bus driver stopped the bus and ordered Kirkham to use the rear doors to exit, Murphy said, but Kirkham refused and yelled at the driver. Kirkham then reportedly moved to the front of the bus, directly to the driver.

As the driver was telling Kirkham to leave, Murphy said, Kirkham reached out and hit the driver’s arm that was pointing to the exit. She then reported took a swing at the driver’s head, forcing the driver to block the attempt with her arms.

The driver was not seriously injured, Murphy said.

Kirkham eventually left the bus, Murphy said, but then stood in its path and started dancing and making obscene gestures at the driver, before she moved along and let the bus continue its route.

Murphy said police arrested Kirkham on Wednesday while she was being investigated as a suspect in another assault.

Kirkham has three previous convictions for possession of controlled substances from 2014 and 2016.

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.
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