A Norristown teen has been charged with murder after shooting his longtime friend in the head with a gun while carelessly handling it, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Victor Bell Jr., 16, was arraigned late Tuesday on charges of third-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and possessing the instrument of a crime. He remains in custody, denied bail due to the nature of his charges. It was unclear if he had hired an attorney.
Bell was visiting Diamond Rahatt, whom he told police he considered his “older sister,” on Sunday, according to the affidavit of probable cause for his arrest. During that visit, Rahatt’s grandfather heard a loud bang from her upstairs bedroom, and ran into Bell as the teen was walking out of the room, the affidavit said. Bell said only that Rahatt had been shot, and quickly left the house, the affidavit said.
Inside Rahatt’s room, police found the 23-year-old lying on her bed, unresponsive. She had been shot once in the head, and was pronounced dead. Next to her body, investigators found a .40-caliber pistol that was registered in her name, according to the affidavit.
During an interview with police, Bell said he had been lying in bed with Rahatt, with the gun next to them, when a friend of his started a FaceTime call with him. Bell picked up the gun while on the call, waving it around to show his friend, the affidavit said. At one point, Bell asked Rahatt to hand him a cigar and when he turned to take it from her, the affidavit said, the gun accidentally went off.
After taking Bell into custody, detectives searched his cell phone and found videos of him, taken 40 minutes before the fatal shooting, wearing a ski mask and pointing Rahatt’s gun at the phone’s camera, according to the affidavit.
In a GoFundMe campaign organized to help pay for funeral expenses, Rahatt’s family said she “was a beautiful high-spirited soul that could easily make you laugh and smile.”
“We have not quite wrapped our minds around this tragic loss of our beautiful daughter, sister, friend, cousin, and niece,” the family wrote. “However, we know her life is one to celebrate.”
District Attorney Kevin Steele said Wednesday that Bell’s actions were reckless and showed no “regard for the danger and threat to human life the behavior posed.”
“Diamond Rahatt had her whole life ahead of her — a life cut short by the reckless handling of a gun,” Steele said. “The death of this young woman is a tragedy, and our hearts and prayers go out to her family.”