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Monday, March 30, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Mother Grieves For Son Who Died Protecting Friend

"Momma, my brother's lying on the ground! He's shot. Momma, come on!" Shane Prebble frantically said over the telephone as his mother, Edrienne Prebble, rushed out the door of her apartment.

Her older son, Shawn Prebble, 28, lay in the parking lot of the Rose Petals restaurant and lounge in South Seattle, the victim of what police say was a gang-related shooting.

Prebble, who, family members say, was not a member of a gang but worked at the lounge as a bouncer, died at Harborview Medical Center early yesterday morning.

A second man, Terry L. Smith, 22, died at the scene and a third, Aaron McLemore, 23, was shot in the right arm. He was treated and released.

Police said all three were from Seattle.

The deaths of Smith and Prebble capped a bloody weekend in which at least six people died in shooting incidents between Everett and Lakewood near Tacoma.

Edrienne Prebble said her son was trying to break up a fight and protect Smith from a beating when he was shot shortly after midnight yesterday.

"He was just a big, lovable Teddy bear," said the mother. "I just don't want to believe it. I still don't," she said.

Shawn's sister, Sunday Farmer, said she was told her brother wrapped his arms around Smith to shield him from his assailant or assailants.

Shawn had been working at the lounge for six or seven months, trying "to get his life together," she said. He came to Seattle last year from Salt Lake City, where he had been unemployed. He was at the lounge with his younger brother, Shane, 21.

Neighbors near the restaurant and lounge at 6901 Martin Luther King Jr. Way South said rowdyism there has been a chronic problem.

Seattle police said the altercation apparently stemmed from an argument over gang turf. No arrests have been made, but Sgt. Don Cameron said the suspect is believed to be a member of a local gang. He did not know of any gang affiliation for those who were shot. The weapon was a 9mm handgun, judging from the bullet casings in the lot, Cameron said.

There were approximately 100 people in the parking lot when police arrived.

Cameron said the two men suffered multiple gunshot wounds. The King County medical examiner was scheduled to conduct autopsies today.

Bettye Gray, who with her husband, Ted, has owned the Rose Petals for about three years, said Prebble and Smith were at the lounge regularly on weekends but never caused any trouble.

The lounge features dancing and a disc jockey, and Prebble watched the back door for Gray to keep people from sneaking in, she said. He also went to the store for her to pick up supplies, she said, describing him as her handyman.

"He was kind of like part of the family," Gray said. "Oh, God, I can't function. I don't believe it."

She didn't know much about Smith or McLemore, except that Smith also was a regular patron. "He was always quiet, happy."

Gray said that in addition to three private security guards, the restaurant-lounge has an alarm to signal trouble. She said the DJ pushed the alarm button to alert workers that a fight was brewing.

Gray said she saw people gathered in the parking lot and someone was shouting, "Man, come on, come on!" She said she called police but at that point saw no weapon. But then she saw someone with what looked like a baseball bat or a tire jack and she started to call police again.

"Then I heard, `pow, pow, pow, pow!' It was rapid," Gray said of the gunfire.

Vandee Meexo, who lives in the house next to the restaurant parking lot, said he saw someone chasing a person with a stick.

His son, Samlee Meexo, said the Rose Petals is crowded every weekend, and there have been previous incidents involving fighting, arguing and bottle throwing.

Eric Burkett, who lives in an apartment building about a block west of the lounge, said he heard a lot of arguing Saturday night, maybe for about 15 minutes. "I started hearing some shooting. I heard a lot of screaming. I came over and saw one dead and one hurt pretty badly."

He said there have been fights and "clowning" in the past, but this was the first shooting he was aware of. "It's become spoiled," he said of his neighborhood. "Things are getting worse."

Another couple in the neighborhood, who asked that their names not be used, said the cars and noise spill over onto the street where they live.

"I'm just scared to death of that stuff," the man said. "There's no telling with these kids," said the woman.

Bettye Gray maintains that gang members stay away from her establishment because of its strict dress code and no-nonsense way of dealing with troublemakers. Security officers will escort people who are causing trouble outside, and if they haven't finished their drink she'll give them their money back, she said. She said Prebble was not part of the security team.

Edrienne Prebble, sitting in the living room of her unit in the Martin Luther King Jr. Apartments about a mile south of the restaurant, said she was worried about her son working there.

"I'd tell him all the time, find you a real job. It ain't worth it," she said.

Prebble's family said he stood 6 feet 1 and weighed between 230 and 250 pounds. His nickname was "Bubba".

"He was a good kid," said his aunt, Paula Hobson. "He was great big, but he was sweet as gold."

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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