When he was 14, Bernard Bellerouche and another teen accosted a boy outside of Bow Lake Elementary School in SeaTac, which was hosting a festival.
The teens demanded the boy’s carnival tickets. When he refused to hand them over, Bellerouche allegedly picked up the boy, slapped him across the face and told him he’d kill him if he didn’t get the tickets, according to documents filed in King County Juvenile Court.
Bellerouche was charged with assault and attempted theft, but those charges were dismissed after the court received letters asking for leniency from the victim’s family, the pastor at Bellerouche’s church, Bellerouche’s mother and a volunteer at World Relief, which helped the teen’s family emigrate from Haiti.
It wouldn’t be his last arrest.
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Now, the 27-year-old man, who goes by the street name “Crucial,” is being sought in connection with three shootings in South King County over the past two weeks, two of which were fatal.
On Tuesday, Federal Way police released a photograph of Bellerouche and asked for help finding him.
“He is armed and extremely dangerous,” said Federal Way police Cmdr. Stan McCall. “He will not hesitate to shoot.”
Police say witnesses tie the 6-foot-2 and 295-pound Bellerouche to the fatal shooting of Demario Washington, 27, in the parking lot of the Silver Shadow Apartments in Federal Way on May 7. Police said Washington was shot in the back of the head “execution-style” after the two men argued.
McCall said investigators believe the victim had accused Bellerouche of “snitching him out” and Bellerouche “took exception to that.”
The second shooting happened around 7 p.m. Monday in Des Moines when several men in two cars began shooting at each other near South 218th Street and 29th Avenue South, according to police.
Police said the cars and shooting suspects were gone by the time officers arrived, but a 28-year-old male victim was located. The man, who suffered nonfatal injuries, has refused to talk to police about what happened, McCall said.
The third shooting, which happened in Federal Way on Tuesday, was a continuation or a direct result of the shooting in Des Moines, police said.
Federal Way police said George J. Gabriel, 22, a Marine, was fatally shot through the windshield of his car while driving through the Mariposa Apartments in Federal Way with his new wife around 1 a.m.
Police said that Gabriel was not connected to the suspects nor the earlier shooting in Des Moines. Police said the Marine was on a two-week leave with his wife and visiting relatives when he was shot.
However, McCall said the May 13 shooting was believed to have been the direct result of the May 12 incident and an attempt at retaliation. He said both shootings featured many of “the same characters.”
He said investigators do not yet know the nature of the dispute behind the shootings, but he said several of the suspects have gang affiliations.
Bellerouche has had a number of encounters with the justice system over the years, including charges for trespassing, selling drugs and a 2012 second-degree felony assault in which he knocked a man unconscious with one blow, court documents show.
Court documents say in that case, a woman reported that she and her boyfriend were walking on Pacific Highway South and accidentally “bumped” three males as they passed by. They apologized, but one of the men, whom she described as an “aggressive male,” wanted to fight.
The woman’s brother and a few other friends were nearby and witnessed the escalating encounter, the police report says.
As the brother came forward, the woman said the aggressive man — later identified as Bellerouche — turned and punched him so hard in the face that he lost consciousness, court documents show.
He was convicted of third-degree assault in 2013 in that case.
Despite his record, police say he was not “well-known to the department” before the recent trio of shootings.
However, McCall said, “We certainly know him now.”
Federal Way police are asking people with information about Bellerouche to call the Police Department at 253-835-6856.
Anonymous tips may be phoned in to a Tip Line at 253-835-6799, or posted online at www.safecityfw.com “Submit an Anonymous Tip.”
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.
Christine Clarridge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-8983