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Second-degree murder, unlawful possession of a firearm charges filed in transit center shooting

Merlin Norman Bell, 28, was charged with second-degree murder and unlawful possession of a firearm Sept. 22 in connection to the Sept. 17 shooting at the Federal Way Transit Center.

The shooting followed an altercation between Bell and De' Von Winston-Parks, 19. Winston-Parks was shot in the head and transported to Harborview, where he died hours later.

Bell was arrested at the scene of the crime near a thick bush and a tree. He told police he was robbed at gunpoint by Winston-Parks the previous Sunday, according to charging papers. The incident took place at the Federal Way skate park, he said.

Bell reported he was fearful of Winston-Parks following the robbery and the younger man had uttered threatening words to Bell when he saw him at the transit center. According to charging papers, Bell told police he shot at Winston-Parks because he believed the man was reaching for a gun inside his backpack after telling Bell he was going to "pop you." Police were unable to confirm the robbery took place.

Another male, whom witnesses saw flee the transit center and whom police initially believed was a suspect, was later discovered to a be a witness. He claimed he was chasing the suspect.

Bell has previously been convicted in Snohomish County Superior Court for second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. He was found in possession of a .38 caliber revolver during Thursday's shooting.

If convicted on all charges, the sentence range is 17 to 25 years in prison, King County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Dan Donohoe said. Bell remains in jail on $1 million bail. Arraignment is scheduled for October 5 at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.

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