Crime

Police: Robber threatened to slit worker’s throat at Bellingham store

A man threatened to slit the throat of a Haggen employee as he stole alcohol and food from the store Wednesday morning, Aug. 19, according to police.

Police caught Ryan Michael Santini, 28, with a knife moments after the robbery near the Barkley Haggen store around 2:30 a.m., said Bellingham Police Sgt. Mike Scanlon. He was arrested and booked into jail on suspicion of first-degree robbery.

A Haggen employee told police that Santini was making odd statements and generally acting in a strange manner when he walked up to the counter. Santini told the employee that he was going to walk out of the store with the alcohol and food without paying, and if anyone followed him he would slit their throats, though he never displayed the knife in the store, Scanlon said.

The Haggen employee did not follow Santini and instead called 911. Police found Santini around some trees nearby.

Santini continued rambling as he was taken into custody. Scanlon was unsure Wednesday if Santini had any mental health issues.

Santini, of Bellingham, had no criminal history in Washington state until this month. He was ticketed for some traffic violations — second-degree negligent driving, operating a vehicle without insurance and expired vehicle registration — less than two weeks ago, according to Bellingham Municipal Court records filed Aug. 6.

A couple days later, on Aug. 8, he was booked into jail for disorderly conduct. He was released Aug. 12 on his own recognizance.

He remained in Whatcom County Jail on Wednesday.

Reach Wilson Criscione at 360-756-2803 or wilson.criscione@bellinghamherald.com.

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