Community Post

One Year Ago Today: Philly’s Owner Killed

One year ago at 11:15am, Degene “Safie” Berecha was shot and killed in his sandwich shop at 23rd & Union by Rey Alberto Davis-Bell.  It was the final act of Bell’s gun rampage that also wounded another man at Philly’s and narrowly missed the occupants of his ex-girlfriend’s apartment in West Seattle. The apparent motive behind the killing was Davis-Bell’s anger at having been kicked out of the restaurant on a previous occasion.

Bell was arrested the next day after a city-wide manhunt. He’s been locked up in the King County Jail ever since, awaiting trial on charges of murder, assault, and attempted murder. But the wheels of justice turn slowly:  his trial date is currently scheduled for October 19th of this year.

A full year later, the Philly’s building still stands vacant at the corner of 23rd & Union, for-lease signs hanging in the windows.  I’m guessing that the economic climate may keep it that way for quite some time.

Refer to our archive for the full list of stories on the Philly’s murder and more.

0 thoughts on “One Year Ago Today: Philly’s Owner Killed

  1. What a horrible story to run, how the hell is this going to enourage anyone to open a business in the CD. Get a friggin clue SCOTT!

  2. I feel that this story is more important to repeat than hide from potential businesses. Merchants will come to the CD because of the population density, low rental prices, and because the lack of businesses in the area. Furthermore, it memorializes a person who lost his life in vain.

  3. sometimes i wonder if the cd news is any different then your average fear mongering media.

    most positive news!

  4. Why would it be good to have someone invest in that space who doesn’t understand the risks and benefits of that location? (And do you think Scott’s story reveals anything a diligent investor wouldn’t also uncover?)

    I read the story mainly as a brief memorial to Mr. Berecha.

  5. I appreciate the reminder of the anniversary of this tragedy.

    It gives me an opportunity to say a prayer for Degene’s surviving family members, and to remember how fragile our community peace is.

  6. I say, Thank You Scott for the timely reminder of the passing a good friend and great businessman. I never drive by the restaurant without saying a prayer for Berecha. I was friends with the previous owner Troy Hackett also and that building will always be a standing memorial to them. The positive news is that we knew them and were impacted by their presence. That’s the kind of Central District News I want to see. The good with the bad.

  7. This article is the kind of reminder that neighbors make to one another. Communities revisit their history, and events like Berecha’s murder form some sort of marker from which we can judge progress. What’s curious to me are the comments that take Scott to task as if the purpose of the CD News were economic boosterism rather than communication. And, I think we should be grateful for the medium, and let the message evolve.

  8. it is not different, just like other media outlets who allow their audience to be heard, we still have morons like you putting in worthless comments!

  9. While I will agree there is a bit of “leading bleeding” here, you have a unique oportunity. EVERYONE can contribute content. If only 2 people regularly contributed non-tragic stories, there would be twice as much “happy” content as crime. While we remember the bad events, we need to note if things are getting better? What’s going well?

  10. Back in the Deano’s era I was surprised on more than one occasion by new condo owners who were “shocked, shocked” (Casablanca reference) to discover the assorted dealings on Madison. I assumed that they must have attended open houses on sunny Sunday afternoons and only approached the area from the NW direction. At least one of them sold and left, with all the expenses that entailed.

    Yes, there are downsides to living here, but there are so many upsides: after all, we all stick around! CD News should certainly continue to document the bad as well as the good: communal sticking of heads in the sand will get us nowhere fast.

  11. Personally I really prefer knowing why there was a helicopter hovering over my house for an hour or two in the middle of the night or what happened when I’m pretty sure I heard 5 gunshots down the street and I sure hardly ever am able to find out on broadcast news….. I’m glad Scott posts what he does. I like being informed about what is going on in my neighborhood bad or good.

  12. anyone who has half a brain is going to figure out why the cheesesteak restaurant closed. the prior two owners of this business have died tragically by being murdered. Scott is just giving an update about what happened one year ago…I doubt his story is going to scare away hordes of investors that are itching to open a business on this pathetic piece of property.

    that corner of 23rd and Union is always awash with thugs and hoods. it’s no wonder nobody wants to do business there. I think the building should be demolished and a Trader Joe’s/Bed Bath and Beyond/Starbucks/Seattle Police sub station/Pottery Barn complex should be erected on the site.

  13. One of our neighbors died that day. This wasn’t some far-off thing you watch on TV. Mr. Berecha came to the US to pursue a dream and he contributed to the neighborhood. In the wake of his death our community came together. I think about him and his death and my neighborhood every time I walk by the restaurant. He deserves to be remembered.

  14. No one will open a decent business there anymore. Who owns that property? This building needs to be demolished asap before it turns into Thompson’s counterpart. Zoning is the issue in the area. Heights are set too low to build anything valuable and developers got tired of neighborhood resistance to anything new. I hope people are finally done preserving the ugly past. Through all these years all we heard is constant whining to not to raise the heights and to keep the neighborhood’s character. Well, here you go. Enjoy this disgusting deadly corner for another 30-40 years, the character of the neighborhood is saved!