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Originally published Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 6:52 PM

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Argument over ‘loyalty’ heard before fatal shots

Police say fatal shooting in Federal Way on May 7 followed argument over loyalty between the suspect and the victim.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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One witness overheard a loud argument about “loyalty” and saw the muzzle flash from a gun as Demario Washington was shot at close range, according to charging papers accusing Bernard Bellerouche of first-degree murder in connection with the death of the 27-year-old in Federal Way on May 7.

Bellerouche was arrested without incident Saturday afternoon at an apartment in Kennewick and is being held without bail in the Benton County Jail, records show.

King County prosecutors, who have also charged Bellerouche, 27, with first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, have requested a $2 million arrest warrant be issued for Bellerouche’s return to King County.

According to Federal Way police, Bellerouche is also a person of interest in the fatal shooting May 13 of George J. Gabriel, 22, at the Mariposa Apartments in Federal Way. Gabriel, a Marine, was shot through the windshield of his car while driving with his wife, police said.

Additionally, Bellerouche is a person of interest in a nonfatal shooting May 12 near South 218th Street and 29th Avenue South. In that incident, several men in two cars began shooting at each other, injuring a 28-year-old man, according to police.

Just before 10:30 p.m. on May 7, a witness called 911 to report that a man had been fatally shot at the parking lot of Silver Shadow Apartments at 27606 Pacific Hwy. S., describing the shooter as a 300-pound bald, black man wearing red clothing, charging papers say.

Bellerouche matches the description, the papers say.

Officers arrived and found Washington dead in a pool of blood, and recovered a single .40-caliber shell casing, the papers say. An autopsy determined that Washington was shot in the head at close range, according to the charges.

Sometime after the shooting, Washington’s 24-year-old wife received a phone call from a woman who was with a man who had met Washington in jail. The couple told her that Washington had been shot and killed, charging papers say.

The wife told police it was her impression from the conversation that both had been present when Washington was shot, the papers say.

The man later turned himself in to his state Department of Corrections officer in Seattle and identified Bellerouche, who goes by the street name “Crucial,” as the shooter from a photo montage, charging papers say.

He told detectives that he and Washington had been together in Seattle earlier in the day when he got into an unrelated fight and the two returned to the Federal Way apartment so the man could change out of his bloody clothes, charging papers say.

The man and Washington were passengers in a Pontiac and were leaving the apartment complex when the driver stopped the car and the man got out to have a friendly conversation with another man, who was apparently Bellerouche, the papers say.

Washington then got out of the Pontiac and “it was apparent” Washington and Bellerouche “had some sort of conflict” and an argument ensued, according to the charges.

The other passenger from the Pontiac tried to get everyone to leave: Bellerouche apparently walked south to a neighboring apartment building, but by then, the driver of the Pontiac was engaged in a fight with another man, the charges say. As Washington was distracted by the altercation, Bellerouche allegedly “returned and walked up behind Washington, pointed a gun at the back of his head and fired the gun,” charging papers say.

One 911 caller told police he watched the shooting from his apartment.

He said he “heard an argument prior to the shooting and could tell the argument had something to do with loyalty,” charging papers say. He “stated he could see the muzzle flash from the gun” and though he “ducked down after the shot,” he saw the shooter and provided a description consistent with Bellerouche, the papers say.

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or sgreen@seattletimes.com



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