A man with a reported long history of attacking random people and throwing rocks at cars allegedly threw a 25-pound piece of railroad tie at a passing Bellingham Police Department patrol vehicle early Saturday, smashing the windshield. Though suffering minor cuts and being covered in glass shards, the two officers in the vehicle were not seriously injured.
Jacob M. Johnston, 25, was booked into Whatcom County Jail Saturday, Sept. 17, on suspicion of charges including first-degree malicious mischief and second-degree assault.
At approximately 4:48 a.m., two police officers in the same patrol vehicle were driving down Lincoln Street approaching Fraser Street, when they noticed a man hunched over by the Interstate 5 overpass, Lt. Claudia Murphy told The Bellingham Herald in an email.
The man, later identified as Johnston, suddenly threw the block of wood at the moving patrol vehicle as it drove past, shattering the windshield, Murphy reported. The block went through the windshield, nearly striking the officers and covered them in glass. The wood block also ripped off the rearview mirror and damaged the hood of the vehicle.
The officers quickly activated their emergency lights, called for assistance and turned the car around to find Johnston, according to Murphy, finding him near the location from where he had thrown the wood block.
Johnston initially refused to follow officers' commands, until additional police arrived, and he was taken into custody without further incident, Murphy reported.
"Both officers found glass in the pockets of their uniforms, on all exposed areas of their skin, in their hair and mouth," Muprhy wrote, "One officer sustained a minor cut on his arm."
Johnston told police that he was not targeting a patrol vehicle, specifically, but he was waiting for any car to come around the blind corner.
'A danger to the public'
This was not the first time police have spoken to Johnston, Murphy reported, as they have already contacted him 26 times and arrested him 15 times in 2022. That was after he was contacted by police 12 times with six arrests in 2021.
"He remains a danger to the public as has been randomly assaulting innocent people, throws rocks and objects at cars, which culminated with him hurling a railroad tie at a passing car on (Saturday)," Murphy wrote.
In addition to Saturday's incident, Johnston was arrested on suspicion of:
- Fourth-degree assault for an April 9 incident in which Johnston reportedly hit a passerby in the face in the 300 block of East Holly Street. He was sent a citation for the incident on June 16 after he was identified.
- Third-degree theft and third-degree malicious mischief for a June 16 incident in which Johnston reportedly stole items from a business in the 1200 block of North Forest Street and left. He was arrested after allegedly resisting officers, but was not booked due to jail restrictions.
- Fourth-degree assault for a June 15 incident in which Johnston reported threw chairs at two customers at a business in the 1200 block of North State Street. A manager asked him to leave, and he reportedly hit her with an open hand. He was identified and cited a day later.
- First-degree criminal trespass for a July 10 incident in which Johnston reportedly entered a business in the 1200 block of North Forest Street that had previously asked police to issue a trespass warning to him, barring him from entering the business.
- First-degree criminal trespass for a July 14 incident when Johnston was reportedly caught shoplifting at a business in the 1600 block of Ellis Street and fought with loss prevention. The store had previously asked police to issue a trespass warning to him.
- Third-degree malicious mischief for an Aug. 23 incident after Johnston reportedly threw rocks at cars and used a rock to carve in the paint of a car in the 1200 block of West Bakerview. He was cited by summons.
- Resisting arrest for a Nov. 7, 2021, incident when Johnston was reportedly seen breaking into cars in the 800 block of Lakeway Drive and refused to cooperate with police when they arrived. He previously had been issued a trespass warning from the area after he was reportedly seen beating on random vehicles in the parking lot. He was arrested and booked into jail at the time.
- Fourth-degree assault for a June 13, 2021, incident in which Johnston reportedly threw a squash and a shaving razor at an employee at a business in the 2200 block of James Street. He was arrested and booked into jail at the time.
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