Bellingham police on alert after series of attempted abductions

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Police are investigating the attempted abductions of a teenage girl and young woman in separate incidents Friday in which their attacker sprayed them in the eyes with an unknown substance.

The incidents followed two other attempted abductions just days before near the Western Washington University campus in Bellingham.

In the first incident on Friday, a 13-year-old girl told police that she was waiting for a school bus in the 700 block of West Bakerview Road at about 8:20 a.m. when a man approached her and told her to go with him, said Mark Young of the Bellingham police.

The girl refused, and the suspect reportedly punched the girl in the face and then sprayed her in the eyes with an unknown substance. The victim ran home to report the assault to her parents, but the suspect did not follow her.

The girl was taken to the hospital after she spoke with police and was checked by medics at home. There were no apparent injuries at that time. Police searched the area where the assault took place, but no suspect was found.

The second incident occurred at about 7:10 p.m. Friday in the 4100 block of Aldrich Road. A 24-year-old woman told officers that she was walking alone on the sidewalk when a man came up from behind and grabbed her by the arm.

The suspect then sprayed the victim in the eyes with an unknown substance and demanded she go with him. The woman refused and yelled. The attacker was last seen running towards West Bakerview Road then out of sight, Young said.

The area was checked by a K-9 police dog, but no suspect was found. The victim was checked by medics.

In both cases, the victims described the attacker as a white man in his 20s with lighter-colored facial hair and wearing dark-rimmed glasses. He was described as standing between 5-feet-5-inches to 5-feet-7-inches, with a thin build. He was last seen wearing blue jeans and a dark jacket.

The two Friday attacks followed two earlier attacks on Feb. 22 and Feb. 28.

In the Feb. 22 attack, a female Western Washington University student reported that she was walking from Fairhaven College Commons toward a parking lot when a man approached her at about 6:30 p.m. and asked directions.

He then grabbed her arm and attempted to pull her into nearby woods. The woman broke free and the man fled. He was described as a college-aged white man, 6-feet-2 inches tall, with a slender build and wearing a baggy hoodie and jeans.

In the Feb. 28 attack, a female WWU student reported that she was walking near the intersection of North Garden and Beech streets near campus at 9:20 p.m. when a man came out of some bushes, approached her and grabbed her wrist.

She struck him in the face and he fled southbound on North Garden Street, away from campus and toward downtown. The suspect is described as a white male, about 5-feet-8-inches tall with an average build, in his early 20s, and wearing dark sweat pants and a long-sleeved gray shirt.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact Bellingham Police Detective Jana Bouzek at 360-778-8826 or send tips to the Bellingham Police Tip Line.

Police are encouraging people to be aware of their surroundings, avoid walking alone, keep a cell phone nearby and travel in well-populated areas, especially during times of darkness. If you see someone or something suspicious please call 911 immediately.