The Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office has charged Maximino Dominquez Tovar, 17, and Dontae Akira Bell, 19, with reckless endangerment and possessing dangerous weapons on school grounds. Tovar was also charged with unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree and aiming or discharging firearms.
“Guns, schools, and juveniles is a dangerous mix,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “We want our schools to be safe.”
Shortly after 11 a.m. on Feb. 26, Tacoma police responded to a report of a possible shot being fired in the basement of the Oakland Alternative School. The Dean of Students reported that she was halfway up the short set of stairs leading from the basement when she heard a loud “pop.” There were several students in the basement area, one of whom found a spent bullet on the floor.
A review of the school surveillance system showed Tovar, Bell and another student exit the bathroom on the first floor above the area in the basement where the bullet was found. A witness reported that it smelled liked gunpowder in the bathroom.
According to interviews of Tovar and Bell, Bell asked Tovar and the third student to come with him to the bathroom. Bell showed them a handgun telling the other two students it was not loaded. Bell said that he found the gun near the side of the road. He handed the gun to Tovar, who indicated he was not very familiar with firearms. Tovar was playing with the gun and put his finger on the trigger. He pulled the slide on the firearm, which then discharged, sending a round through the floor. Tovar handed the gun back to Bell and quickly left the bathroom.
Bell stated that he fled the school and got rid of the gun by giving it to a friend at the bus stop. Police were able to locate the friend, who was a juvenile and not allowed to possess firearms, and recover the semiautomatic pistol along with a 30- to 32-round magazine.
Bell was released on his own recognizance with electronic home monitoring. Tovar was ordered held in secure detention until his next court date in March.
Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.