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Sketch of suspect in Lake Padden attack released

Police had apologized for notification delay earlier this week

The Bellingham Police Department released a sketch of the suspect tied to an assault at Lake Padden on Saturday, June 22. The suspect is described as an average-to-fit white male in his 30s, about 5’8” to 5’10” with a distinct, receded hairline. The assailant was wearing blue jeans and possibly a gray shirt. (Photo courtesy of Bellingham Police Department)
By Annie Todd and Charlotte Alden

The Bellingham Police Department released a sketch Thursday of the suspect tied to a vicious assault on a young woman that took place Saturday morning, June 22 on a trail at Lake Padden. 

The alleged assailant is an “average-to-fit” white man in his 30s, about 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10 with a “distinct receding hairline,” according to witnesses and the victim’s description. He was wearing blue jeans and possibly a gray shirt. 

Earlier this week, the department faced criticism for the two-day delay in reporting the attack. Rumors of the incident had been posted on social media Sunday but the police did not send an official release until Monday, when they asked for help from the public in locating the suspect. 

Police apologized for the way the department handled the communication and said, “we are committed to doing better.”

“We are reviewing our internal communications process to address missed opportunities for community engagement and public notifications,” the department posted on social media Tuesday. 

Thursday morning, June 27, the department would not release detailed information about the ongoing search for the suspect, only saying, “our investigation unit is following up on tips.” The department also would not confirm the age of the victim, what kind of weapon was used or immediately release the police report of the incident, according to Megan Peters, a spokesperson for BPD. CDN has requested the report, which can take weeks to obtain after a formal records request. 

Peters would not provide names of the witnesses, saying that information “would be available when and if court documents are filed.”

On Sunday and Monday, multiple social media postings addressed fear and concerns about the attack and the notification delay, given the popularity of the trails.

Here’s what is known:

A young woman was running on the southeast side of Lake Padden on the horse trails around 10:30 a.m. Saturday when a man, unprovoked, knocked her to the ground and punched her in the face multiple times, according to Peters.

Two people heard the victim screaming and the attacker fled, according to Peters. The attack happened during the Lake Padden Triathlon, but the woman was not participating. One of the witnesses who came to her aid was participating in the triathlon. The two witnesses rendered aid and escorted her to the trail entrance, according to police.

The woman was taken to the hospital but her injuries are unknown, police said.

The attacker was last seen running down a hill near milepost 1 3/4 of the trail toward Interstate 5. 

After the attack, police K9 teams searched the area focusing on the horse trails west of Lake Padden and north to the intersection of 33rd and Broad Street, Peters said, but the suspect was not located. 

“The victim was randomly attacked in a location that should have been safe for her to enjoy a summer day jog,” Peters said in the Tuesday statement. “When enjoying the outdoors, consider doing so with at least one other person or be in an area that is well-used by other outdoor enthusiasts. Even if people are by themselves, they are not responsible for someone else’s criminal actions.” 

When asked if police consider the area safe for recreation, Peters said in an email response, “This incident is out of the ordinary for the area.” She also said she had not found any other recent reports of assaults occurring outdoors that include the Lake Padden trail system.

A CDN team went on Monday midday to the address of the assault listed on the Police Daily Activity Log and did not see police on the trails or at two parking lots.

Bellingham residents Karen and Neal Trevorrow, who were on the trail,  said they rarely see anything unusual in frequent walks around Lake Padden. There are occasional issues with break-ins, but Neal Trevorrow said on Monday they feel comfortable at Padden. The recent assault likely won’t change their behavior, he said.

The department also said this week officers are conducting extra patrols in the area.

BPD investigators are following up on tips and information obtained during interviews. Police are asking anyone with information about the assault to contact the department at 360-778-8611 or online at, reference case number 24B35293.

A previous version of this story stated the wrong day the police asked for the public’s help. It was Monday, June 24. This story was updated to reflect this change on Friday, June 28 at 9:35 a.m.. Cascadia Daily News regrets this error.

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