By Caleb Hutton
Update at 7:48 p.m. Mark Ortiz was booked into jail a few minutes ago on charges of felony harassment (usually meaning death threats), fourth-degree assault and resisting arrest.
BELLINGHAM – A police standoff that has blocked traffic for hours on Northwest Avenue was sparked by a domestic violence assault Saturday afternoon, June 23.
Mark A. Ortiz assaulted a relative about 3 p.m. at his home in the 4200 block of Northwest Avenue, said Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo.
Then he barricaded himself inside the home.
As of 6:40 p.m., the time of this post, the standoff is ongoing. Deputies are using “extreme caution,” Elfo said, because it’s believed Ortiz may have a handgun.
SWAT team members are now plotting their next move, Elfo said. They’ve set up a perimeter and are detouring traffic.
Here’s a link to a wanted poster put out by Bellingham Police in May 2011, when Ortiz was arrested on investigation of assault, harassment and unlawful imprisonment charges. He has an extensive criminal history.