Shoplifting Suspect, a Convicted Felon, Armed with a Loaded Pistol, Arrested
While contacting store loss prevention, a Spokane Valley Deputy observed a male suspect conceal a pair of jeans in his coat. The suspect failed to pay for the jeans and passed all points of sale when the Deputy contacted him. The male was resistive but was detained and placed in handcuffs. He tried to break free and run out of the store but was quickly taken to the ground. A loaded Bersa .45 semiautomatic pistol was recovered from his waistband. The suspect, a convicted felon prohibited from legally possessing a firearm, was arrested and booked into the Spokane County Jail for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm 2nd Degree, Theft 3rd Degree, and Resisting Arrest.
On May 11, 2023, at approximately 7:45 am, Spokane Valley Deputy N. Overbay was in the Walmart loss prevention office, 5025 E. Sprague Avenue, when he observed a male, later identified as 27-year-old William J. Benton, on the security cameras. He grabbed a pair of jeans and walked to another aisle, where he concealed the jeans inside his coat.
Loss Prevention employees continued to monitor Benton’s actions as he grabbed a couple more items before going to self-checkout. He paid for some of the merchandise but did not pay for the jeans, which remained concealed in his coat.
As Benton began to exit the store, past all points of sale, Deputy Overbay, in uniform, contacted him and told him he was being detained. Benton immediately tensed up and started to resist. Deputy Overbay took control of Benton’s arms while telling him to stop resisting and place his hands behind his back. Benton did not comply, reached toward the front of his body, and not knowing if Benton was armed with a weapon, Deputy Overbay quickly pinned Benton against the wall to restrict his ability to move and placed him in handcuffs.
As he began to walk Benton back to a more secure area out of the traffic of customers going in and out of the store, Benton tried to bolt out of a different exit door. Benton was quickly taken to the ground, ending up on his back, where Deputy Overbay observed the magazine of a pistol in Benton’s waistband. The loaded Bersa 45 caliber semiautomatic handgun was removed and rendered safe.
As they walked to the LP office, Benton tried to explain, without being asked any questions, that he found the pistol in the store, put it in his waistband, and would never bring a gun into the store. Once inside the office, Benton continued to talk freely without being asked, saying he found the gun on a shelf and that he doesn’t carry guns.
Benton was advised of his rights, and he agreed to answer questions. Benton explained after finding the gun; he didn’t know what to do with it, so he placed it in his pants. He stole the jeans because he didn’t think he had enough money to pay for them and the other items he wanted. Benton said he couldn’t turn the gun in because he would have gotten in trouble. He couldn’t say where inside the store he found the pistol, and he didn’t want to walk around where people could see it, so he concealed it in his waistband. He said he is a convicted felon, cannot legally possess firearms, and planned to throw it in the trash once he left the store.
The handgun was loaded with one in the chamber and three live rounds in the magazine. A check of the serial number showed clear and that it had not been reported stolen.
A check of Benton’s name revealed he was indeed a convicted felon, prohibited from legally possessing firearms. (Assault 2nd Degree 8/2019)
Once out in the parking lot at Benton’s vehicle, where two adults passed out inside were contacted and detained, Benton consented to a search of the car. Deputies found several pills suspected to contain Fentanyl were discovered and seized. The two people detained were not charged in connection with this incident and were released.
Benton was transported and booked into the Spokane County Jail for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm 2nd Degree, Theft 3rd Degree, and Resisting Arrest. Benton’s total bond for all three charges was set at $5,000 by Spokane County Superior Court Commissioner N. Swennumson.