Man told no jobs, pulls gun; Ride Aid suspect later arrested

Grand Junction police arrested a man Tuesday evening on suspicion he walked into the Rite Aid Pharmacy near Mesa State College, pulled out a gun and assaulted an employee.

The incident, which initially was reported as a robbery, occurred at the pharmacy at 1834 N. 12th St. around 2:40 p.m.

Grand Junction Police Department spokeswoman Kate Porras said the man approached an employee in the middle of the store and asked for a job application. When the employee told him the store wasn’t hiring anyone, the man pulled out a gun, threatened the employee, shoved the employee as the employee tried to get away and dropped the gun, Porras said. The suspect then ran out of the store.

Shortly after that, police received a call about a suicidal man at a residence near 17th Street and White Avenue, and investigation of that incident led to the arrest of 26-year-old Benjamin Gamil Awad as the Rite Aid suspect, according to a Police Department news release. Awad was arrested on suspicion of felony menacing, carrying a concealed weapon and prohibited use of a firearm, the news release said.

The call about the suicidal subject, Awad, happened while officers with a police dog searched the area near Rite Aid for the suspect, who was last seen running south. After Awad was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital, officers found a vehicle near the 17th-and-White residence matching the description of a car seen earlier in the Rite Aid parking lot, the news release said.

The Rite Aid employee who reported being menaced by Awad confirmed that clothing found inside the car was the same clothing worn by the suspect in the store, according to the news release.

After Awad was released from the hospital, he was taken to the Police Department for questioning and was arrested around 7 p.m., Porras said.

Four schools in the area of the Rite Aid were locked down for some time: Orchard Avenue Elementary School, Orchard Avenue Preschool, Intermountain Adventist School and Bookcliff Christian School. Porras said police worked with School District 51 to release Orchard Avenue Elementary students to their parents. The students at the other three schools were released earlier.


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