Man arrested at El Jebel City Market after gun threat
Basalt police officers arrested a Texas man Tuesday morning after he entered the El Jebel City Market, put his arms in the air and yelled that he had a gun.
Brandon Smith, 40, was taken into custody without incident, according to Basalt Police Lt. Aaron Munch. The man had no gun and no one was injured, Munch said. Smith was found in possession of brass knuckles, the officer said.
Smith was arrested on suspicion of felony menacing and possession of an illegal weapon, Munch said. He was taken to Eagle County Jail.
Police received the initial call at 10:06 a.m.
“We got a call that a man came into the store, put his hands in the air and said, ‘I’ve got a gun,’ ” Munch said.
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Munch arrived on the scene within six minutes and was informed by a woman in the parking lot that the suspect was inside by the Starbuck’s counter, he said. Munch said he approached the man at the counter and quickly suspected there was a mental health issue. He said Smith was talking incoherently.
“He felt as though people were out to get him,” Munch said. “He was compliant and cordial.”
He placed Smith in handcuffs and led him outside the store without incident. The man had apparently come to City Market to get a cup of coffee. Upon arrest, Smith asked Munch if he could bring his coffee with him. Munch said he told him “no” and didn’t see that he had a drink anyway.
Smith apparently drove to the grocery store and said he was staying with friends in the El Jebel area.
Making the incident even stranger, Munch said, was that a customer in a mask had approached Smith during all the commotion because of a concern that Smith wasn’t wearing a mask.
“It was not a safe thing,” Munch said of the customer approaching the man who claimed to have a gun.
Munch said he didn’t witness any pandemonium when he first arrived on scene. People were milling about their parked vehicles outside. Managers inside were moving people toward the exit or in the aisles away from the suspect. Munch and three other Basalt officers responded to the scene.
Social media rumors quickly and erroneously labeled the event an active shooting incident. Whole Foods Market briefly went on lock down out of concern, Munch said.
Basalt police posted information on Facebook at about 12:30 p.m. to dispel the rumors.