BELLINGHAM, Wash. — A man armed with a realistic-looking Airsoft gun alarmed drivers and police and caused chaos in a crowded parking lot of a Bellingham shopping area.
On Saturday, Bellingham police received a call about a man with a gun in his pocket walking around a parking lot in the 4300 block of Meridian Street near T.J. Maxx. Police said the man stole merchandise from the store and fled before officers arrived.
At 2:30 p.m., police received calls about a man in the same area brandishing a handgun in the air and at people in passing cars. Officers arrived and ordered the man to put his hands up, but he ran toward the stores in the crowded parking lot armed with what appeared to be a handgun.
Some officers ran after him, while others chased him in police cars.
At one point, the man ran up to a truck and pointed the gun at its driver, according to police.
“The driver, frightened for his life and believing he was about to be robbed of his truck, sped off to flag down police,” the Bellingham Police Department said in a news release.
One Bellingham officer turned a corner to find the suspect facing the officer’s car while pointing the gun directly at the officer. The suspect then resumed running and hid between parked cars until officers fired beanbag rounds at him. He then dropped the gun and got onto the ground after he was struck by the rounds.
Officers recovered what turned out to be a realistic-looking Sig Sauer Airsoft gun, according to police.
The man, identified as 27-year-old Kelton T. Lane of Bellingham, was arrested and taken to the hospital after a beanbag round re-injured a pre-existing wound from a previous incident with another law enforcement agency.
Lane was later booked into the Whatcom County Jail for investigation of first-degree attempted robbery, two counts of second-degree assault and obstructing law enforcement. He is being held without bail.
“I am incredibly proud of how our officers responded to this frightening incident in a crowded shopping mall parking lot. Several residents and one of our officers had what they perceived at the time (to be) a real gun pointed at them, creating a chaotic, rapidly evolving situation,” said Bellingham Police Chief Rebecca Mertzig.
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