As we reported as the news broke, there was a tragic shooting just before lunch today at the Philadelphia Cheese Steak shop at 23rd & Union. One of the victims was Dejene Berecha, the owner of the store, who was shot in the head and passed away after arriving at Harborview. Several of our commenters have said what a nice guy and hard worker he was, and how much he was looking forward to the future, with a recent marriage and a plan to relocate the shop this weekend to a different spot up the street, in part due to the ongoing issues we’ve seen around 23rd & Union.
We don’t have much information on the second victim, only that he was an asian male, and that he is still in critical condition at Harborview. It’s not clear if he was an employee of the store, a specific target of the shooter, or just an innocent bystander.
A witness we spoke to described how a black male in his 20s walked into the store, fired three shots, and then sped away northbound on 23rd Ave. Other witnesses described how people in the store went running out the back door after the assailant opened fire.
The suspect in the crime is Rey Alberto Davis-Bell, pictured below, who was involved in a different shooting just 20 minutes before in West Seattle. In that incident he fired a number of rounds into the window of his girlfriend’s apartment, but luckily the two women and baby in the apartment were unhurt. Police believe the two events are connected because the vehicle description is nearly identical in each case. But it is still a mystery how the restaurant is connected to either him or the earlier shooting.
Police urge anyone with information on Davis-Bell to call 911. He is considered “well armed” and dangerous, so do not approach him. He is a 23 year-old black male, approximately 6 feet tall and with a thin build. His vehicle is described as a black 2003 Lincoln Continental with dark tinted windows and flashy gold rims. Davis-Bell also has a significant criminal record that includes violence, with a 2001 conviction of harassment and a 2003 assault with a gun.
Update:11:18PM – KOMO TV just reported that the suspect’s vehicle has been recovered near 23rd Ave S & Forest on Beacon Hill. We have information that his family lives in that area. However Davis-Bell himself is still at large.
Here’s links to coverage on this from the major news outlets: