Bellingham police crack down on rowdy parties

BELLINGHAM — An investigation continues into a riot last month in Bellingham, and police are also focusing more attention on rowdy parties near the Western Washington University campus.

The Oct. 12 riot broke out after Bellingham police officers broke up a party at an apartment complex. Hundreds gathered and began throwing beer bottles, cans, lawn chairs and rocks at patrol cars. Police responded in riot gear to disperse the unruly crowd.

The Bellingham Herald reports that Mayor Kelli Linville estimated the unrest cost at about $20,000, including personnel costs for responding officers. Eleven people have been arrested so far, facing charges that include malicious mischief, failure to disperse and rioting while armed.

Among those arrested are two students from Western. One has been suspended and the other is going through the university’s discipline process.

Some renters at the apartment complex where the party began before the riot may be evicted, said Mike Hays, owner of Hammer Properties, which manages the apartments. He has been working with police and looking at pictures from the night of the riot, and he’s contacted tenants in the building asking them if they participated in the block party and what their role was.

“We’re just making sure everything is done right, not rushing to judgment,” he said, “trying to do a thorough investigation of the facts and trying to go from there.”

On Nov. 23, police broke up a party less than a block from the scene of the riot – where neighbors had been complaining of people urinating outside, yelling and running around in a yard strewn with beer bottles.

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