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Monday, October 2, 2023
Oct. 2, 2023

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Second suspect in fatal shooting outside Vancouver Safeway held on $1M bail

By , Columbian staff reporter

A judge ordered a Portland man be held on $1 million bail in connection with the March 11 fatal shooting outside a Safeway on Mill Plain Boulevard in Vancouver.

Austin A. Bell, 21, appeared Monday in Clark County Superior Court on a warrant for charges of first-degree murder, first-degree assault and drive-by shooting. He is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday, along with his co-defendant, Nicholas Martinell-Sterling, 28, of Vancouver.

Bell was arrested March 20 after Vancouver police detectives — with help from the Portland Police Bureau’s Special Emergency Reaction Team and Vancouver police’s Safe Streets Task Force and Neighborhood Response Team — served a search warrant at about 5 a.m. at a residence in the 10800 block of Southeast Stark Street in Portland, according to a news release.

He was booked into the Multnomah County Jail in Oregon and extradited to Clark County. He has no known criminal history, according to Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jeff McCarty.

Bell is charged as the accomplice of Martinell-Sterling, who is accused of fatally shooting 28-year-old Henry Gonzalez Carmona of Vancouver. Three other people — Gonzalez Carmona’s girlfriend, Angelica Corrales, and friends, Aniva Garcia and Michael Roban — were wounded in the shooting, according to court records.

Martinell-Sterling was arrested March 15 on the same allegations and subsequently made his first appearance in Clark County Superior Court. He is being held without bail.

March 11 shooting

A bystander called 911 at 11:35 p.m. to report a shooting in the Safeway parking lot, 6701 E. Mill Plain Blvd. The caller reported someone had been shot and left the area in a car. The suspects had also left the area in a vehicle, according to a probable cause affidavit.

About five minutes later, Vancouver police received reports of gunshots heard near PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. Gonzalez Carmona had also reportedly been dropped off at the hospital, court records state.

He was later pronounced dead at the hospital. The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office said he died from a perforating gunshot wound to his torso. His death was ruled a homicide, meaning it resulted from another person’s deliberate action. The ruling does not make any judgments about criminal culpability.

Investigators learned Gonzalez Carmona was shot in the parking lot of the Safeway, after he’d gone inside the store with Corrales. Garcia and Roban stayed in the car, the affidavit states.

On surveillance footage, the couple could be seen entering the store and walking past two men, later identified as Martinell-Sterling and Bell, court records say.

Investigators said Corrales told them the two men asked Gonzalez Carmona where he was from. Detectives said that’s slang for asking about gang affiliation, according to court records.

Gonzalez Carmona could then be seen using his phone and glancing at the two men, who then left the store. Gonzalez Carmona and Corrales later exited, and he was shot shortly after, according to the affidavit. The shooting was not captured on surveillance footage.

Garcia drove Gonzalez Carmona and the others to the hospital. Shortly before they arrived, their car was shot at, presumably by the same suspects, investigators said.

Garcia suffered a gunshot wound and underwent surgery, before being admitted to the intensive care unit. Corrales and Roban suffered what appeared to be grazing gunshot wounds, the affidavit states.