A shoplifting suspect is accused of pulling a knife on a Bellingham police officer Thursday morning, March 3, on York Street.
Police were called to Grocery Outlet, at 1600 Ellis St., for a shoplifting report around 9:50 a.m. Store security gave a description of the suspect to police.
Moments later a traffic cop on a motorbike, Officer Henry Ortega, spotted a man leaning against a business on York Street, about two blocks north of the store. He fit the description.
Ortega drove his motorcycle onto the sidewalk and parked near the man, later identified as Manuel Gonzalez, 27. As the officer got closer Gonzalez “started posturing,” police said, and it appeared as if Gonzalez was “preparing to either fight or flee on foot.”
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Ortega ordered Gonzalez to face away and place his hands behind his back, according to police. The officer reported the suspect moved his hands near the buckle of his pants, and that he could see a knife in Gonzalez’s waistband. The officer drew his gun.
“Gonzalez spun toward Ortega in a fighting stance with the knife in his right hand,” police wrote in a media release. “Ortega said that it appeared as if Gonzalez quickly realized that Ortega's firearm was pointed at him and he immediately tossed the knife into the street.”
Backup reached the scene, and Gonzalez was arrested on suspicion of assault in the first degree. The officers and Gonzalez were unharmed.