Police searching for suspect after Ferndale freeway threat

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by KIRSTEN JOYCE / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on August 5, 2012 at 3:26 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 7 at 2:09 PM

I-5 Shooting

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After a lengthy manhunt and the closure of Interstate 5 for several hours overnight, Ferndale police are asking for the public's help in tracking down the man believed to have been aiming a rifle at drivers.

The incident began at about 9:47 p.m. Friday when someone called 911, saying they saw a male on the Smith Road Overpass,  wearing a dark hoodie and holding what appeared to be a rifle.

Ferndale units were dispatched and arrived within minutes. The first officer saw what he believed to be a flash muzzle of a rifle, pointed in the northerly direction from the overpass.

The Whatcom County Sheriff’s office responded, in addition to Bellingham Police, Ferndale Police, US Customs and border protection. They closed down I-5 from the Slader Road exit, just south of the overpass, to the Main Street Exit, which is north of the overpass

The excitement caught  the folks who live nearby in Ferndale by surprise.

Larry Tobiassen has lived in his home off Smith Road for 70 years, and expected a peaceful summer evening.

“All of sudden there was a flock of sheriff’s lights flashing, all stopped right along here,” he said.

Tobiassen got about as far as his mailbox, when police told him to  go back inside. 

“He said, 'there's a man out here, running around with a rifle.' My wife said we better lock everything all up,” said Tobiassen.

“Saturday night, cop lights flashing, helicopter going around, a full-on manhunt,” said Jason Vick, who lives nearby.

“I've always felt safe here, last night was first time I felt uneasy,” said his wife, Emily.

They let their trusted German shepherd loose to check out their backyard, while officers called upon their K-9 units, helicopters, and and thermal imaging devices to to search for the suspected gunman.   They opened the interstate after two hours, when no shell casings or suspect turned up.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Ferndale Police Department.

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