BENSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Deputies with the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man accused of making bomb threats near Benson Wednesday, Aug. 5.
This was a collaborative effort between CCSO, the Benson Police Department, Arizona DPS and others.
According to reports, a man at a bar-and-grill in Mescal, west of Benson, was acting erratically.
Authorities were advised that the subject was letting his vehicle roll away from him while advising patrons about a bomb strapped to his roof and making statements regarding “nerve gas” while running behind the vehicle, until it ran into a ditch.
The suspect drove away when deputies arrived and headed westbound on Interstate 10 as authorities pursued him.
Traffic was stopped by DPS in an attempt to yield the subject, but he turned around at milepost 293 and continued eastbound back towards Benson, causing a traffic accident along the way.
As subject was headed back, DPS staged tire-deflation devices near milepost 301 and successfully deflated at least one tire.
The driver slowed down after running over a natural gas line on 4th Street in Benson and pulled into a Safeway parking lot, crashing against a pole near one of the store entrances and striking a parked vehicle.
The suspect got out of his vehicle and attempted to flee the scene but he was quickly captured by deputies.
Ricardo Jefferson Jr., 50, from California was transported to a hospital in Benson for examination.
Authorities evacuated all shops in the plaza area and called a bomb squad to assess the situation. Stranded residents were transported by bus to the Benson Community Center.
Roadways adjacent to the area were also closed off to traffic.
DPS Bomb Squad and the Tucson Fire Department Hazardous Materials unit responded to assess the bomb threat. They were able to use a robot to secure the vehicle and check for any devices.
Around 7:47 p.m., Cochise County finally removed threats to the public and reopened roads, but the plaza remained closed throughout the investigation.
After getting released from the hospital Aug. 6, Jefferson was booked into the Cochise County Jail on charges of aggravated DUI, aggravated assault on an officer, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, criminal damage and traffic offenses.
Jefferson remains in custody on a $100,000 bond.
The investigation is being continued by the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office.