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Bellingham pursuit suspect ditches car in girlfriend's driveway

BELLINGHAM — A Bellingham man wanted on a charge of abusing his girlfriend led a state trooper on a car chase Tuesday night, Jan. 7, before he ditched his car in the girlfriend's driveway and hid in bushes a block away, according to police.

The trooper tried to pull over a speeding '92 Toyota Camry with Oregon plates around 8:30 p.m., as the driver exited from southbound Interstate 5 to Lakeway Drive, said Washington State Patrol Trooper Keith Leary.

But the driver — later identified as Denis V. Krishtal, 24 — wouldn't pull over for the sirens and flashing lights, Leary said. The eastbound Camry ran a red light at Puget Street, then turned right, into a neighborhood where the driver doubled the 25 mph speed limit in the dark.

After weaving through several blocks and ignoring stop signs, the man turned left onto a short driveway off St. Paul Street. He opened the door and took off running, Leary said.

Officers cordoned off the area and used a police dog to track him down. He was described as a white man, about 5-foot-8, in dark baggy clothes.

In the meantime, officers knocked on the door of the home. Bail paperwork shows Krishtal lived at the house, in the 1200 block of St. Paul, within the past month. But on the morning of Dec. 21, the woman confronted him about his drug use, so he got mad and attacked her, said Bellingham Police Sgt. Jason Monson. She eventually escaped and called 911 to report Krishtal had pushed her, pulled her hair and wouldn't let her leave the house. Police couldn't find Krishtal that day, but warrants were issued for fourth-degree assault, unlawful imprisonment and interfering with a report of domestic violence.

On Tuesday night, she assured police Krishtal wasn't at the home. Last she heard, he was in Oregon, she told the trooper. She wouldn't let them search inside, though.

After about a half-hour of patroling the neighborhood, K-9 Officer Max and his handler, Officer Shan Hannon, tracked a scent to some bushes about a block south of the car, where Whatcom and Racine streets cross.

They found Krishtal hidden in the bushes, sweating and out of breath, according to the state patrol.

Troopers believe they could see meth paraphernalia in the car: a hollowed-out pen for smoking. Krishtal won't be charged with a drug-related crime, Leary said, until a search warrant allows troopers to peruse the Camry. There wasn't probable cause for a charge of driving under the influence of drugs, he added.

Krishtal was booked into Whatcom County Jail on suspicion of eluding law enforcement, the domestic violence warrants and failure to appear for obstructing law enforcement.

He got handed the obstructing citation when witnesses called 911 to report Krishtal and his girlfriend arguing at 3:20 a.m. July 28, in the middle of Indian Street. Police wanted to talk with him, Monson said, but Krishtal kept walking away.

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