Suspect arrested in 2017 Everett shooting over $5 in gas

The wanted man was caught in California. He was booked Tuesday into the Snohomish County Jail.

EVERETT — A shooting suspect who evaded Everett police for 3½ years was booked into the Snohomish County Jail on Tuesday.

Everett detectives were alerted in early May that Justin Bell, 31, was arrested in California, Everett officer Kerby Duncan said. He has since been extradited.

Bell is accused of shooting a passenger in his carpool group on Dec. 14, 2017, outside a Value Village on Evergreen Way.

Gunfire left the other man with wounds to his arm, ankle and buttocks, according to charging papers filed in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Police later learned the wounded man was annoyed that day because he was the only person who reliably paid $5 for gas money in his carpool group.

He reported he got in a fight with Bell, the carpool driver, and that there was yelling and shoving. Then the passenger decided “the issue wasn’t worth a fight,” so he walked away, wrote deputy prosecutor Wallace Langbehn.

Police believe Bell got into a Black Hyundai, and he appeared to be the only person in the car. The car traveled along Evergreen at a speed much slower than other traffic, then stopped with the driver’s side window rolled down. On security camera footage from nearby businesses, the victim and his girlfriend ducked “in an obvious reaction to gunfire,” according to the charges.

The Hyundai sped off faster than other traffic. The wounded man fell. He had suffered three gunshot wounds. A doctor told investigators “the victim had a significant potential for imminent deterioration,” the prosecutor wrote.

Several witnesses called 911 to report what they had seen.

Officers recovered shell casings for 9 mm ammunition at the shooting scene. Records showed Bell owned three guns, including a 9 mm Luger pistol, the charges say.

Court records show Bell had no felony history.

Police reportedly received a pair of phone calls from the suspect a few months later, in February and March 2018. In the first call, he told police he was worried that one of his guns had been used in a crime, the charges say. In the second call, he reportedly denied knowing about a fight and claimed it “might have been someone else.” He told officers he didn’t know the other man, and that he’d never given him a ride.

Bell also told police he’d moved to California in December.

Felony charges were filed in March 2019 while the suspect remained at large. At the time, prosecutors asked for $100,000 bail.

“The allegations in this case are that the defendant fired several rounds from a pistol across a busy street, during the day, and hit the victim three times,” Langbehn wrote. “The defendant’s utter disregard for safety demands bail be set in this matter.”

Everett police released no other details about the circumstances of the arrest in May.

Bell was booked into the Snohomish County Jail early Tuesday to face charges of first-degree assault. He now has a tentative trial date set in early July.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.

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