Rehoboth standoff suspect due in court

REHOBOTH, MA (WHDH) - A suspect who was taken into custody after a standoff that lasted nearly five hours in Rehoboth Thursday is due in court Friday.

According to police officials, 38-year-old Benjamin Kimball of North Attleboro threatened to blow up a Cumberland Farms on Route 44 just before 7 a.m. The store is on 232 Winthrop St., which is at the intersection of Route 44 and Route 118.

According to police, Kimball drove to the store and bought a Bic lighter at around 6:30 a.m. He then asked to make a call. Police said Kimball took the store’s cordless phone, dialed 911 and then hung up.

Police responded to the area and saw Kimball heading toward his Saturn SUV. Police said Kimball then told the officers to back off, saying he had a gun and a bomb and was going to blow up the store.

At one point, the police chief said Kimball took the lighter and tried to set fire to the gasoline pump, which had already been shut off. During the five-hour standoff, police said Kimball made numerous threats to blow up the gas station. Kimball’s girlfriend Melissa Fancher said he may have been doing this to make a statement about mental illness.

“Most likely he did this to make people aware that the mental health system is screwed up. There’s no help for the mentally ill,” said Fancher.

Just before noon, officers used a flash grenade and beanbag bullets and were then able to take him into custody after he rammed his car into armored vehicles. Kimball was taken away in an ambulance to Morton Hospital. He may require surgery for his police dog bites.

Inside Kimball’s car were personal items, including a lampshade. Police said he was never carrying a gun, either; he had an X-Box game controller in his possession.

Kimball faces 11 charges, including attempting to set fire to the gas station.

He is being held without bail and will  be arraigned Friday.

A Cumberland Farms spokesperson addressed the incident in a statement:

Just before 7 a.m. this morning, we were notified that an individual threatened to harm a store employee at the Cumberland Farms store at 232 Winthrop Street in Rehobeth, Mass. All employees and customers have been safely evacuated from the store, and the gas pumps have been turned off. To the best of our knowledge, there is no one on site with the exception of the suspect and the police. We will provide more information as soon as it becomes available.

Anthony Azar, Superintendent of Rehoboth Schools, released a statement about the incident Thursday afternoon:

The unfortunate incident at Cumberland Farms today in Rehoboth clearly illustrates the importance of our school district working together with our local law enforcement agencies and our bus transportation provider to keep our students safe. While events were unfolding at the intersection of routes 44 and 118 this morning, the school district was monitoring the safe arrival of our students and staff. The impact to the morning commute was substantial, however in spite of this delay we are grateful to our students, staff and parents for handling the delay in a very seamless manner. Finally, we would like to thank our local law enforcement folks and various Town of Rehoboth Departments for their support in making our schools safe everyday, but especially with what transpired today in Rehoboth.

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