Man guilty in bar shooting that left innocent bystander dead

A man who fired two shots in a bar after being punched in the head, striking and killing an innocent bystander in 2021, was found guilty of multiple charges Wednesday night, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Deerik Marquis Bell, 38, of Panama City, was found guilty of Manslaughter with a Firearm, Attempted Second-Degree Murder with a Firearm, and Felon in Possession of a Firearm by a jury after about three hours of deliberation Wednesday night. He was charged in the Sept. 3, 2021, shooting death of Tracy Eckman at the Outrigger Lounge, 1623 15th St.

Major Crimes Prosecutor Peter Overstreet
Defendant Deerik Bell
Assistant State Attorney Frank Sullivan

Manslaughter with a Firearm and Attempted Second-Degree Murder are both First-Degree felonies. Bell faces a maximum of Life in prison on the first two charges – the first for being a Habitual Felony Offender and on the second for being a Prison Releasee Reoffender. He faces a maximum of 30 years on the third charge as a Habitual Felony Offender.

Circuit Court Judge Shonna Young Gay set sentencing for May 15.

Major Crimes Prosecutor Peter Overstreet cross-examines the defendant

Major Crimes Prosecutor Peter Overstreet and Assistant State Attorney Frank Sullivan called about a dozen witnesses and presented evidence showing that the defendant had ongoing friction with LeQuentin Williams over a woman that came to a head when Williams spotted the defendant in the bar that night.

Evidence, including security footage from the bar, showed that Williams ran up and punched Bell in the head. Bell, who has 16 prior felony convictions and was last released from prison in March 2021, ducked from a second punch while pulling a pistol and firing two shots in the crowded bar.

SAO Investigator Shannon Mitchell, Overstreet and Sullivan discuss strategy during a recess

One shot hit Eckman, who had been playing darts and had no involvement with the other men. The second hit the back of a chair a woman was sitting in but did not injure her. The video showed Eckman saying he had been hit. The bullet severed an artery and he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The defendant fled the scene and was captured about 5 months later.

“No one’s asking you to like LeQuentin Williams,” Overstreet told jurors in his closing argument. “But what is being asked of you is to follow the law … to announce with your verdict that it is not OK for a convicted felon to be punched in the head one time and pull out a gun and begin shooting.”

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Sullivan told jurors Bell acted with “complete indifference to everybody on the other end of that firearm when he fired,” and should be held accountable.Basford thanked the Panama City Police Department and case agent Cpl. Matthew Kelly for their work on the case.For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850–381–7454.