TACOMA, Wash. – Shawn Bell, 51, pleaded not guilty to a slew of charges in connection to a pair of frightening attacks on Pierce County store employees in the last week.
Investigators say the distinctive metallic, orange mask Bell allegedly used in both crimes could have been one of the key clues to crack this case.
Bell walked into court wearing a jump suit to face a judge late Friday. He told police during interviews he hasn’t committed any crimes and he maintains his innocence.
Court documents reveal bell was arrested at his gym where he’s a personal trainer, he also apparently lives inside this south hill commercial complex. Detectives narrowed their search for a suspect after a tipster had seen this surveillance video released by police showing the suspect wearing a shiny, orange mask.
The tipster told detectives bell owned an identical mask and wore it during a Halloween party – police say they also found the identical mask on Bell’s social media.
Police also recovered a bright orange mask at Bell’s gym including several other items he allegedly stole during his crime spree in Tacoma and Puyallup.
“It’s sickening actually,” said Bronwyn Lamphere who lives nearby. “To think it’s okay to go into a business to violate a woman that’s not okay at all.”
Lamphere says she saw the surveillance video and was shocked to learn someone in her own neighborhood could be accused of such crimes.
“He shouldn’t be able to be out there,” she said. “I have kids, I live down the street.”
Bell was charged with attempted kidnapping, assault, robbery and rape. He allegedly sexually assaulted one of the female employees at Tacoma’s Castle Superstore this past Monday. His first robbery, according to police, happened at Puyallup’s Lovers store last Friday.
Court documents say he held one female employee by the neck and attempted to pull her out of the store – but she and another employee were able to escape his grasp.
Several of bell’s gym clients told Q13 News they were shocked to hear he’s been implicated in crimes that have terrorized Pierce County.
Bell is being held on $1 million bail. Investigators also say they have his DNA evidence which could further link him to the alleged rape.