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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Stevens County man told police friend he killed threatened him; witnesses disagree

UPDATED: Tue., Feb. 9, 2021

The Stevens County Courthouse in Colville, Washington. A man has been arrested on suspicion of shooting and killing a friend in Stevens County.  (CHAD SOKOL)
The Stevens County Courthouse in Colville, Washington. A man has been arrested on suspicion of shooting and killing a friend in Stevens County. (CHAD SOKOL)

A Stevens County man who called police after shooting his friend earlier this month remains jailed on suspicion of second-degree murder.

Ryan F. Gilliard, 44, called 911 on the evening of Feb. 2 to report a shooting at his home, located at 33624 Waitts Lake Rd. Police detained Gilliard when they arrived, according to court documents.

The victim, Christopher Bell, 37, was flown to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center where he died. Bell died from a gunshot wound to the head, according to the Spokane County Medical Examiner.

Gilliard told police on scene that he had known Bell for several years and that they had recently reconnected after running into each other at the Chewelah Casino, according to court documents. Bell and a woman named Melissa Smith came over to Gilliard’s house the day of the shooting when Bell “assaulted” Smith, Gilliard told police in court documents.

Smith told police that Bell never physically assaulted her but did yell at her aggressively. Smith also told police that she, Bell, Gilliard and a second witness had all been using illegal narcotics, including methamphetamine. After completing a search of the house, police discovered drug paraphernalia and residue.

Gilliard said he confronted Bell about his behavior multiple times, eventually leading to a confrontation with Bell pulling out a “very large knife,” according to court documents.

Smith, however, told police Bell never threatened anyone with the knife but was in possession of a large knife.

After the confrontation with the knife, Gilliard said he retrieved a 30-30 rifle from the gun safe he inherited from his father and confronted Bell, who was now in his car, according to court documents. Gilliard pleaded guilty to felonies in Idaho in 2005 and 2006 and was not allowed to possess a firearm, according to court documents.

Gilliard said Bell threatened him with the knife again and that’s when Gilliard shot him, according to court documents. Gilliard said he didn’t intend to kill Bell, just to scare him.

A second witness, Jerald Snodgrass, told police he had been staying in Gilliard’s boathouse for several months. He heard a gunshot earlier that evening and ran outside to see a green car “careening” to where it was currently located on the property. The location of the car was not indicated in court documents.

Snodgrass said Smith was shouting at him to “do something,” so he went to Bell’s side of the car and applied pressure to his head wound, according to court documents. Snodgrass told police Gilliard told him Bell held a knife to his throat. While he was administering aid to Bell, Snodgrass said he did see a large knife on the floorboard of the car, according to court documents.

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