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Riot rocks Bellingham

A man holds a sign over his head as a crowd of partygoers turns violent in the streets of downtown Bellingham. Photo by Jake Parrish, Western Front. Photo: KGMI/Jake Parrish, Western Front

Riot rocks Bellingham

KGMI News Reporting
By Mike Curtiss

Play riot audio

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Police used flash grenades and pepper-spray after a block party turned into a riot near the Western Washington University campus late Saturday night.

The trouble started when police tried to break up the party, but many of the partakers moved to a nearby park where up to 500 people gathered.

Police Sergeant Mike Scanlon says when officers tried to clear the park, the intoxicated crowd turned violent.

Play Mike Scanlon on violence

Several officers received minor injuries from broken glass.

Several police cars were damaged and have been taken out of service.

A WTA bus and some private property was also damaged.

Police arrested 20-year-old Korey McClay and 23-year-old Collin Lewis, both of Bellingham, and 19-year-old Sean Davidson of Seattle.

None of those arrested so far are WWU students.

Officials at Western Washington University are meeting with Bellingham Police to discuss what steps they can take together to prevent another party from escalating into violence.

Western president Bruce Shepard and student body president Carly Roberts released a joint statement saying they don’t yet know the extent to which Western students were involved.

They say if any students are found to have engaged in lawless and destructive behavior, “they have no place at Western.”

Any student involvement, even if it doesn’t qualify as criminal behavior, would be a violation of Western’s Student Code of Conduct.

Shepard and Roberts say the violence has stunned the community because it is so out of character for Bellingham.

Several people who witnessed Saturday’s riot recorded the drama and posted their videos on the internet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GtU2Kqt4iw

Bellingham Police and WWU Police are reviewing the riot videos for more people to press charges against.

Bellingham Police Chief Cliff Cook says, “in this day in age of the abundance of social media, no one can partake in this type of violent behavior and remain anonymous.”

Police are requesting anyone who may have captured the events on digital media or have any information to contact Detective Gina Crosswhite at 360-778-8835.

Information can also be reported to WWU Police officer Jayson Christopherson at 360-650-3555.