Bail is set at $100,000 for a 33-year-old man who allegedly stopped his truck in the middle of a rural Benton County road and robbed another motorist at gunpoint, then shot the man’s car as he tried to get away.
The victim, who did not know alleged attacker Benjamin M. McNair, was hit by one bullet on the leg.
McNair pleaded innocent this past week in Benton County Superior Court to first-degree robbery, second-degree assault with a firearm allegation and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.
His trial is scheduled Aug. 31.
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According to court documents, Benjamin Taff was driving on Old Inland Empire Highway at 1:23 a.m. July 11 when a white truck passed him and stopped, blocking the road so Taff had to stop his own car.
The pickup driver then got out, started yelling at Taff and pointed a semiautomatic pistol at the motorist’s head, documents said.
The suspect, later identified as McNair, demanded Taff’s driver’s license, documents said.
Taff told authorities that he handed over his wallet, and the suspect then ran back to his truck.
Taff crashed into McNair’s truck as he tried to escape, but was able to get around the pickup and drive off, court documents said. McNair fired several shots at the car as it left the scene, documents said.
Taff immediately called 911. After authorities tracked down McNair in the area, authorities drove him to the location and Taff said he “was 100 percent positive that (McNair) was the perpetrator,” documents said.
Taff was treated for a grazing gunshot wound to his leg. His car reportedly was hit with bullets at least twice.
A daytime search of the reported crime scene turned up a pistol at the base of a utility pole and a wallet with Taff’s credit card in the branches of a tree, court documents said.
McNair “denied committing any crime, but did admit being at the crime scene,” Deputy Prosecutor Terry Bloor wrote in documents.
McNair, who has lived in Sunnyside, was booked into the Benton County jail at 8 a.m.
Records show he has five prior felony convictions as an adult and two as a juvenile. Those convictions include residential burglary, second-degree burglary, reckless endangerment with a controlled substance, first-degree theft and possession of a controlled substance.