Crime

Pumpkin mask worn in sex shop assaults also was man’s Halloween costume, and how he got caught

It was a metallic orange Halloween mask that led detectives to the man suspected in two assaults outside sex shops in Tacoma and Puyallup.

Surveillance video showing the a man choosing items from a Puyallup adult store was circulated after this week’s attacks, and a woman recognized Shawn Lamar Bell, 51, from a Halloween party they both attended.

Bell, who owns a boot camp and personal training business in Puyallup, had posted photos from the party on social media of himself wearing the same metallic orange mask.

Tacoma police served a warrant Thursday night at his home in the 10100 block of 122nd Street East and found stolen merchandise from the Puyallup sex shop that was robbed, including enhancement pills and vibrators.

The mask also was recovered.

When Bell was arrested in his car, police said he had two stolen vibrators on him.

Bell was charged Friday with second-degree robbery, second-degree rape, second-degree assault and attempted first-degree kidnapping. He pleaded not guilty in Pierce County Superior Court, and bail was set at $1 million.

Charging papers give this account:

Bell went into an adult store in the 4000 block of South Meridian Avenue just before closing time Saturday, put his hands around a female employee’s neck and demanded money.

After getting cash, he forced the employee to walk around the store and place selected merchandise in a bag.

He also stole the store’s phone so the employees could not call for help.

As Bell went to leave, he grabbed the female employee again by the neck “telling her that she was coming with him,” records say.

Another employee grabbed the victim’s arm and Bell let go.

Records show he stole $450 in merchandise.

About 1 a.m. Monday, he tried to walk into a Tacoma sex shop, but the two employees refused to let him inside because they were closing up.

When they were done, the pair exited the store onto the loading dock and spotted Bell.

He allegedly ran up the stairs onto the loading dock and demanded the employees open the door to the business.

When they refused, he punched the male employee and sexually assaulted the female employee.

Detectives reviewed surveillance footage from the surrounding areas of both scenes and noticed a 2000 Dodge Durango parked outside both the Puyallup and Tacoma stores at the time of the attacks.

A Dodge Durango is registered to Bell, records show.

After his arrest Thursday night, Bell denied being involved in the robbery and assaults and claimed he hadn’t been sexually involved with anyone on the day the Tacoma employee was sexually assaulted.

DNA was taken during a rape exam and will be compared to Bell, prosecutors said.

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