Police have released sketches and images from security footage, as they try to identify a man who assaulted three women near Western Washington University.
Two composite sketches of the attacker, a bearded man, were released late Wednesday, July 20. Since then detectives have taken many tips, said Lt. Bob Vander Yacht. Two still photos of grainy security footage were released late Thursday afternoon, showing a bicyclist whom police called a person of interest.
All three sexually-motivated assault reports came in Wednesday, and in each case the violence seemed to escalate, Vander Yacht said.
According to police:
▪ Just after 3 a.m. Friday a woman, 18, was walking home on East Holly at North Garden Street when a bearded man on a bike grabbed her buttocks and tried to grab her arms. He fled when she screamed. She did not speak with police until the other reports reached the media.
▪ At 1:20 a.m. Wednesday two women, ages 21 and 22, were walking at Chestnut and Ellis streets when a man on a bike grabbed one woman’s buttocks. He told them he had a knife in his pocket and that he wanted oral sex.
▪ A half-hour later, at 1:50 a.m., a 29-year-old woman walking through an alley at Garden Street and Garden Terrace saw a bearded man lurking in the shadows. She told him, “Hey, man, you scared me,” and he responded by running up to her and grabbing her neck with one hand. With his free hand, he pressed a small pocketknife, similar to a Swiss Army knife, to her throat, and told her he wanted oral sex. She refused and screamed. He ran off.
Suspect descriptions in the three cases were almost identical: a white man, 5-foot-9 to 6 feet tall, with long shaggy brown hair, and wearing a beanie. In the Wednesday reports, he wore a dark brown button-down shirt and pants. The bike he rode looked cheap – “not a thin racing-style bike but not a thick beefy (mountain bike) either,” according to police.
The security footage was taken just before the July 15 assault. Detectives aren’t sure if the cyclist depicted is the suspect, but police want to speak with him.
Anyone who recognizes the man or has other helpful information should contact Bellingham police Detective Tawsha Dykstra at 360-778-8664 or visit cob.org/tips.