Bellingham Police identified Colton Powell, 31, of Bellingham, as the person who made the bomb threat at Downtown Sounds on the evening of August 4, 2021. Powell was arrested at his home by members of the Bellingham SWAT team and booked into the Whatcom County Jail for threats to bomb or injure property, as well as felony harassment – domestic violence, which stemmed from another case.
Shortly after 8:00 p.m., Bellingham Police were called to the outdoor music festival, Downtown Sounds, in the 1300 block of Bay Street for a bomb threat received by phone. An employee at Bayou on the Bay received a phone call from an unknown male caller saying he had placed bombs at two nearby businesses, Black Sheep Restaurant and the Spark Museum, and they were set to go off at 8:23 p.m., specifically.
Officers immediately responded to the area and initiated the evacuation of the area, including closing down the music festival. Using their police car public announcement systems, officers gave warnings and ordered people to move several blocks away to safety. Roads leading into the area were blocked to traffic.
Bellingham Police Hazardous Device Unit (HDU) and Explosive Detection (ED) K-9 Raven responded to assist. Further investigation and a sweep of the area by K9 Raven and her handler, the threat was deemed to be a hoax. Despite the false alarm, multiple organizers, business owners and attendees reported being alarmed by the threat of violence and bombs.
Further investigation on August 5, 2021, led officers to the phone number and its owner, Colton Powell, at which point probable cause for the bomb threat was developed. Throughout the course of the day, officers also investigated Powell’s continuous threats of violence and harm to his roommate. The threats of violence included breaking bones and to “do worse.” This led to the development of probable cause for felony harassment – domestic violence.
Due to the danger to the community and the ongoing and increasing threats of violence, Bellingham Police SWAT team and Crisis Negotiator Team (CNT) responded to Powell’s residence in the 2600 block of Undine Street. CNT officers reached Powell by phone and negotiated with him, while he received constant, clear messages from SWAT officers positioned outside using a public address system. He was told he was under arrest and to surrender peacefully. Right at midnight, Powell surrendered himself and was arrested without further incident. He was booked into the Whatcom County Jail.