Today the King County Prosecutor’s Office filed charges against Rey Alberto Davis-Bell in the January 30th rampage at the Philadelphia Cheese Steak shop that killed owner Dejene “Safei” Berecha and seriously injured a customer.
There are five counts in the charges:
1. Murder in the First Degree, for the murder of Mr. Berecha.
2. Attempted Murder in the First Degree, Domestic Violence, for the shots fired into the apartment of Davis-Bell’s girlfriend in West Seattle.
3. Attempted Murder in the First Degree, for shooting customer Yo Lee at the sandwich shop
4. Attempted Murder in the First Degree, for attempting to kill Habiba Golicha, a worker at the sandwich shop.
5. Unlawful Posession of a Firearm
Each of the counts has a firearm enhancement, and Davis-Bell faces 108 to 131 years in prison if he is convicted on all counts.
Update: Here’s the chronology of events as detailed in the filing papers:
Rey Alberto Davis-Bell was having an extended argument with his ex-girlfriend because his new girlfriend had learned of some recent phone conversations and text messages between him and the ex. That morning Davis-Bell had called the ex-girlfriend and told her not to contact the new girlfriend again (it’s not clear when the two women had previously been in contact). About 10-15 minutes later, at 10:47am, shots were fired into the ex-girlfriend’s living room window, narrowly missing a friend in the apartment and the friend’s young child. When officers arrived on the scene, they found 9 .40 calliber shell casings on the ground outside the apartment window, and contacted a nearby construction worker who provided a description of a man seen walking away from the window. That description matched Davis-Bell.
Police were later contacted by Davis-Bell’s grandmother, who said that he had called her after 10:30am that morning, seemed very upset, and told her that he thought the ex-girlfriend and new girlfriend might be conspiring against him. He then said that he had fired shots into the ex-girlfriend’s window and said “I’m going to take care of the rest of them”. The grandmother expressed concern that other family members might be in danger.
At 11:15 officers responded to the call of shots fired at Philly’s. Initial reports said that two people were shot by a black male matching Davis-Bell’s description. Officers found the store’s owner had been shot and was laying on the floor behind the counter. A customer had also been shot twice near the front entry way. The suspect fired shots at a store employee who was working the grill, but she escaped through the back door unharmed. Two other customers were in the store, and told officers that the suspect had looked at them but did not fire in their direction. They provided a description of the suspect and his vehicle that matched Davis-Bell. Seven .40 caliber shell casings were recovered from the scene.
Davis-Bell’s relatives were very cooperative in the investigation. One told officers she had seen the suspect around 12:30pm on the day of the shooting when he was sitting in the car in her driveway, saying that he was acting strange and had a “very stoic and blank look on his face.” She later found that the car in the incident was parked across the street from her house, where officers impounded it for CSI processing.
On the next day, Thursday 1/31, SPD detectives were sitting at a house in the 3900 block of S. Cloverdale, which they knew was associated with Davis-Bell because one of his cars was registered there. They saw a man matching Davis-Bell’s description leave the residence and followed him for a couple of blocks before he caught on and started to run between houses, shedding clothing as he went. He was caught, identified as Davis-Bell, and taken into custody. He refused to answer any questions and asked for a lawyer.
The shell casings from West Seattle and Philly’s were sent for analysis, and were found to have been shot from the same weapon, a “Baby Eagle” 40 caliber. A girlfriend of the suspect had previously said that Davis-Bell had carried a weapon that was “some kind of Eagle or something.”
Update 2: I made an inquiry to the prosecutor’s office about the death penalty and whether it was applicable or contemplated for this case, and it turns out that it was not. In Washington State, the death penalty requires an aggravating circumstance that goes along with the murder, such as a murder happening in the course of a robbery. There were no such factors in this case. However, the prosecutor’s Press Secretary Dan Donohoe said that Davis-Bell will be serving the equivalent of a life sentence if convicted on all counts. The firearms enhancements alone added 40 years that are not subject to parole or early release.