Crime

Bellis Fair shooting suspects at large; victim in critical condition

A bullet hole in the red Chevy Impala driven by a young man in his 20s who suffered multiple gunshot wounds June 19, 2015, at Bellingham’s Bellis Fair Mall.
A bullet hole in the red Chevy Impala driven by a young man in his 20s who suffered multiple gunshot wounds June 19, 2015, at Bellingham’s Bellis Fair Mall. The Bellingham Herald

Police continued to search Saturday, June 20, for the gunman or gunmen who shot a man in the Bellis Fair mall parking lot in Bellingham.

A witness, Penelope Barringer, 59, of Birch Bay, said she was having a cigarette when she heard at least five gunshots around 7 p.m. Friday in the parking lot in front of the mall’s food court.

A young man in his 20s suffered multiple gunshot wounds as he sat in a parked red Chevy Impala. He remained in critical condition Saturday.

He fled the gunfire by driving to the north side of the mall, while bystanders ran for cover. Barringer watched as two young men — two, she said, not three or four, as the news reports she saw suggested — jumped into a dark sports car, laughing.

“Did they shoot somebody?” she recalled thinking. “Then why are they laughing?”

One of the fleeing men hopped into the driver’s seat, Barringer said. She described them as Hispanic, in white T-shirts and dark pants. They had short hair, no obvious tattoos, no facial hair — nothing, really, that made them stick out as gang members or thugs. They looked young: teens or early 20s.

“I wouldn’t have looked at them and thought anything, if this didn’t happen,” Barringer said.

The sports car, parked like it backed into the space, sped off south toward the interstate. After the chaos witnesses gave conflicting memories of the getaway car. Some, like Barringer, said it was a black BMW from the early 2000s, with a spoiler and dark windows. Others said it was silver. Police took at least one report that three or four people were inside.

On the other side of the mall, along the east side of Target, the Impala crashed into a parked dark Chevy sedan, and the domino effect damaged two other parked cars. A woman in the passenger seat of the Impala took the wheel and parked it against the building’s wall, witnesses said. The victim of the shooting was rushed away by ambulance. The woman did not appear harmed.

No one else was hurt inside or outside the mall.

Gunfire left two apparent bullet holes in the Impala: one on the driver’s side of the windshield, another by the hinge of the driver’s door.

Detectives sifted through evidence — security footage, witness accounts, spent and live ammo left on the asphalt beside shattered blue windshield glass — late into the night Friday.

Sgt. Ken Brown, of the Bellingham Police Department, declined to clarify suspect descriptions or to release new information Saturday. Jail logs suggest no suspects have been arrested.

Some witnesses said the suspects had come up to the Impala and started yelling at the man about money. Police, however, were reluctant to discuss a possible motive.

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Read the Dispatcher blog at bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher-blog and follow him on Twitter at @bhamcaleb.

  Comments