Update: 7:05 p.m.
Shots were fired this afternoon in the parking lot of the Southampton Center after employees from Raley’s and two retired police officers tried to detain a Fairfield woman who was suspected of stealing wallets from shoppers.
According to Lt. Frank Hartig the 46-year-old African-American woman, Arshawn Neal, was approached by a Raley’s store manager after she was spotted stealing wallets from the purses of store patrons. While the manager was confronting the woman, a retired police officer approached and tried to help the store manager.
At that point the incident turned violent. “After retired officer number one identified himself as a police officer, a major fight ensued,” said Hartig. “It moved into the parking lot.”
Then a second retired officer approached, identified himself as a police officer and told the woman to stop resisting, said Hartig.
At about the time the second retired officer became involved a man approached the melee, grabbed the suspect’s purse and fled to a car parked nearby. The suspect then started to pull away and hit the second retired officer who had chased the suspect as he ran from the fight.
The retired officer who was hit rolled on the ground then saw that the car was coming at him again. He then pulled out a revolver and fired twice at the approaching car, hitting it with both rounds.
The suspect then drove out of the shopping center and got onto Interstate 780 going west. As he entered the freeway he was spotted by two officers who were responding to the incident. Those officers followed the suspect, Stephon Anthony, a 50-year-old African-American from Oakland, and saw him toss something out of the car as he exited the freeway at Columbus Parkway.
The man stopped at the Parkway Plaza where officers arrested him. One of the officers then recovered a wallet from the off-ramp. “The wallet belonged to a woman who was shopping at Raley’s and wasn’t even aware it had been stolen,” said Hartig.
While the man was being detained on Columbus Parkway, the other suspect was being detained at the Southampton Center. “The woman made her way to the east end of the parking lot where she was arrested without incident,” said Hartig. “All the fight was gone out of her at that point.”
Hartig couldn’t confirm the number of wallets found in the car because the investigation is on-going. “The officer only saw the one wallet thrown from the vehicle and that was recovered,” said Hartig. “But we have several people who have come forward and said they were victims of theft related crime.”
“This incident really exemplifies what our profession is all about,” said Hartig. “When trouble was brewing, instead of running away, they (the two retired officers) approached the trouble and tried to help resolve the situation.”
“There are a lot of law enforcement people who work for other agencies and live in Benicia and they retire here too,” said Hartig.
A unknown number of gunshots was fired this afternoon near the Raley's store in Southampton Center.
According to Lt. Frank Hartig nobody was hit by the gunfire. Asked what prompted the shootng Hartig said, "I don't know."
Police are questioning the person who fired the weapon as well as a number of witnesses who were in the vicinity when the shots were fired.
Hartig believed all the people involved in the shooting are currently being questioned by officers. "We are confident that the people involved in this incicdent are not running around," said Hartig.