Two barricaded suspects taken safely into custody

BPD SWAT, crisis negotiators, detectives’ roles critical in both arrests

Aug 22, 2020 - by Claudia Murphy, Bellingham Police Department

Two suspects committing serious domestic violence (DV) crimes on two different days were arrested by Bellingham Police this week.  Tony L. Combs, 41, for felony harassment (DV) and assault 4th degree (DV) on Wednesday, August 19, 2020.  Tara L. Brinson, 58, for assault 4th degree (DV), assault 2nd degree (DV) and attempted residential burglary (DV), on Thursday, August 20, 2020.  Due to the circumstances in both cases, Bellingham Police SWAT and Crisis Negotiation Teams were called out to take Combs and Brinson safely into custody.

On Wednesday patrol officers were called to the 1300 block of Barkley Boulevard for a 911 call which now had an open line.  The investigation developed probable cause for the arrest of Combs for assaulting the victim and making a threat to kill her after he saw a police car outside.  The victim in this case was safely escorted away by patrol officers, as Combs remained in the residence.  Combs has a significant criminal history, including convictions for intimidating a witness, assault 2nd, and murder 2nd degree, and is a level III sex offender not living where he is registered.  Based on his criminal history and information obtained he may be armed; SWAT and Crisis Negotiators were called to assist with the arrest. 

The residence was surrounded, and neighboring residences evacuated using BPD’s rescue vehicle as a platform of safety and cover.  After phone contact failed, officers used the PA system in the rescue vehicle to call out to Combs, giving him instructions how to surrender peacefully.  Moments later he came out of the residence and was taken into custody without incident.

On Thursday patrol officers were called to the 1100 block of N. Forest for a domestic assault.  This investigation developed probable cause for the arrest of Brinson for assault 4th degree, assault 2nd degree (strangulation) and attempted residential burglary.  Brinson assaulted a family member by hitting and strangulation.  This assault was interrupted, and Brinson was shoved out of the house.  Brinson threatened to break in and then kicked the door.  Brinson fled the scene back to her residence in the 900 block of Lincoln Street. 

Officers went to Lincoln Street to speak to Brinson, but she went inside her apartment and locked the door, only speaking to officers by way of cursing and shouting.  Information obtained by officers that Brinson had a weapon in the house, military training, and currently not cooperating, SWAT and Crisis Negotiators were called to assist with the arrest.

SWAT team members, using the rescue vehicle, were able to evacuate citizens in the immediate area.  Using the armored rescue vehicle as a platform of safety and cover, officers started a dialog with Brinson to negotiate surrender as she stood on the balcony.  This worked for a while, until Brinson stopped all communication, refusing to engage, going back into her residence.  Brinson was warned many times a chemical irritant would be introduced if she did not surrender.  After several more warnings and another opportunity to show cooperation, the chemical irritant was introduced to the residence to encourage Brinson to surrender peacefully.  Within moments, it had the desired effect and Brinson came out immediately.  She followed directions and was arrested without further incident. 

Both Combs and Brinson were booked into the Whatcom County Jail for their charges.  BPD detectives applied for and served search warrants on both residences and continue their investigation into these cases.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or sexual assault, you can contact the following local resources for free, confidential support:

  • Lummi Victims of Crime (360) 312-2015
  • Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services of Whatcom County (360) 715-1563

Media Contact

Claudia Murphy
Bellingham Police Department
(360) 778-8834
cmurphy@cob.org


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