Suspect allegedly pulled knife on victim at grocery store

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FARMINGTON — A Farmington man arrested Tuesday night for alleged armed robbery is also accused of starting a fire in a mobile home earlier this month.

Raheem Benally, 24, is accused of armed robbery, criminal trespass and resisting, evading or obstructing an officer, according to court documents.

He is accused of robbing a man while using a knife at the Smith's grocery store in Farmington and fleeing from officers to the area of Brookside Park, according to the probable cause statement.

Benally did not have legal representation today.

Farmington Police Department officers were dispatched at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday to Smith's at 600 E. 20th St. on a report of an armed robbery.

The victim was located and told police Benally approached him at one of the entrances to the grocery store and pulled a folding knife out after the two men exchanged insults. Benally allegedly told the victim he was going to take the victim's bike.

The victim told police he wrestled the knife away from Benally, and Benally knocked him to the ground with a leg sweep. The victim's wallet fell out, and Benally allegedly took it and left the scene, according to court records.

Benally was later located by law enforcement in the wooded area on the northeast side of Brookside Park, according to Farmington police spokesperson Georgette Allen. The San Juan County Sheriff's Office and New Mexico State Police assisted in the search.

Benally was wanted on a felony warrant for arson when he was arrested, according to court documents.

He is accused of starting a fire on June 2 in the mobile home his girlfriend was living in, which destroyed the interior of the residence, according to the arrest warrant affidavit. The mobile home is on the 1000 block of Smith Lane.

The female victim told police they got into an argument, and as she left to avoid a fight, Benally flicked a lighter in her face and stated, "You better not leave or I will (expletive) everything up."

She was at a nearby church when she saw the smoke and commotion from the fire trucks.

Witnesses told police they saw Benally in the residence before the residence caught fire, according to the affidavit. 

Benally was incarcerated on a no-bond hold at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center today.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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