Bellingham police found a deceased male at a wooded homeless encampment near Walmart on Saturday, Oct. 14.
Officers responded at 4:59 a.m. on Saturday to the camp, located on private property southeast of the intersection of Deemer and East Stuart roads. They discovered an “obviously deceased” man in a makeshift structure made of wood and tarps, Bellingham police Lt. Claudia Murphy said.
The Whatcom County medical examiner identified the man as Juan Cortez-Lopez, 36. His cause and manner of death were pending as of Thursday, Oct. 19.
The encampment, dubbed “The Hundred Acre Opioid Wood” on Google Maps, has been a source of growing concern among residents of the nearby Tullwood Apartments.
Resident Shelli Tench spoke to Bellingham City Council on Sept. 25, describing fighting, yelling and threats coming daily from residents of the encampment.
“What I want to know is, what is your timeline for removing it and what do you want the tenants to do because we live in hell, and we all believe this city does not care,” Tench told the council.
This story was updated at 2:02 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19 with the name of the deceased individual.