No motive in post office standoff

*Updated as of July 10, at 2:30 p.m. with new information from the Rolla Police Department*


CORBIN KOTTMANN


On July 9, at approximately 2:30 p.m., the Rolla Police Department received a 911 call of an armed subject who had allegedly barricaded himself inside the Rolla post office.

The man was later identified as Benedict Benito, an employee of the post office. According a release issued by the Rolla Police Department, information was received that Benito had other postal employees in the building with him as well.

One of the employees in the building was able to alert law enforcement through her cell phone, according to Rolla Chief of Police Sean Fagan. He said one of the sergeants who was on the road at the time was able to speak with Benito. After this conversation, the other employees left the building.

According to the press release issued by the police department, the follow-up investigation and interviews with the postal employees involved determined Benito did not point his gun at them or threaten them in anyway. It was also determined Benito was not actively holding them hostage.

A third employee had arrived on the scene eariier, but ran away and was able to talk to the police and provide background information on Benito. The police were put in contact with Benito’s wife and given his cell phone number, which they used to open communication with him.

“We spent several hours trying to contact him and get him to come out,” said Chief Fagan. “We have negotiators that are very trained in this, to make conversation. We interview the family and friends to find out if there are any problems, we try to deal with that. Our goal is to talk him into coming out peacefully.”

During a conversation over the phone with law enforcement, Benito reportedly informed them he was going to kill himself and hung up. Chief Fagan said they were only able to speak with him once more after that. During this second conversation, Benito once again indicated he intended to take his own life. Benito did not engage in conversation after that.

“After several hours of not being able to reach him, we decided to go ahead and send our SWAT team in there,” Chief Fagan said. As the SWAT team entered the post office, they discovered Benito had killed himself.

“It’s unfortunate it turned out the way it did,” said Chief Fagan. “but thankfully no innocent people or officers were hurt.”

As of now law enforcement officials are investigating Benito’s motive for the incident, and Chief Fagan explained Benito had no prior criminal history.

“We’re just trying to find out why,” Chief Fagan said. “He obviously had some problems, unbeknownst to anyone else.” Chief Fagan stressed that Benito was “a good man.”

Law enforcement and first responders who came together to assist the situation include the Missouri S&T University Police Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop I, the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department, and the Rolla Fire Department.

“We had a big area that we had to cordon off and had to keep people from wandering close, they all helped with that tremendously,” said Chief Fagan. “The cooperation with law enforcement agencies out here, I’ve never seen anything like it in my entire career.”

This incident is still under investigation. The next of kin have been notified. Anyone having any information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact Detective Derrick Dillon at the Rolla Police Department’s Division of Criminal Investigations Unit at (573) 308-1213, or you can remain anonymous by calling the Rolla Police Department’s Confidential Tip Line at (573) 364-0111.