BENSON — Police have identified the man who fired a shot in Benson Walmart parking lot on Saturday.
Benson Police Chief Paul Moncada, emphasizing this was not an “active shooter” situation, identified the man as Alejandro Ponce, 26, and currently of Benson.
The chief said Ponce discharged a shot into the pavement of the store parking lot at 201 S. Prickly Pear Ave. There were no injuries but a vehicle sustained minor damage, either from debris or projectile ricochet.
“It did not occur inside the store... he never pointed the weapon at someone,” the chief reiterated, again stressing this was not any part of a preconceived attack.
Authorities — Benson Police and Cochise County Sheriff’s Office deputies — were on scene within minutes of the incident that occurred just after 6:30 p.m.
Responding authorities were alerted from a citizen in the parking lot of a male who had discarded something after the shot had been fired and headed east of the store near an alley way adjacent to a desert area near Fifth Street where police located Ponce. Officers located a handgun at the point of reference received from the witness and Ponce was arrested a short time later without incident.
Ponce, who remains in custody, is charged with endangerment, recklessly handling a weapon and firing a shot within city limits. It was unclear Sunday morning if Ponce had appeared before a judge or the caliber of the seized pistol.
Moncada praised the cooperative and swift response on the part of BPD and CCSO.
“Obviously we take these types of situations extremely serious,” said Moncada. “We are going to respond with every resource available to us — and our partnering agencies are going to do the same.”
Benson Police posted an alert on the department’s Facebook page Saturday night, which read: “Before the rumors get out of hand, the facts, the Police Department received multiple calls of shots fired at WalMart, officers responded and located alleged suspect and a handgun. There have been no reported injuries, the investigation is on going. There is no present danger to the public.”
Benson Walmart referred inquiries to the corporate media relations office in Bentonville, Ark., or to Benson PD.
The BPD post set off a social media thread frenzy. Right off the heels of last month’s multi-casualty mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, many commenters to the BPD post report now having a more heightened sense of alert with regard to exit strategies and hiding places on routine trips to the store.