Piñon man shot in Basha's parking lot

By Cindy Yurth
Tséyi' Bureau

CHINLE, March 29, 2011

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A Piñon, Ariz., man is hospitalized after being shot Friday afternoon in the parking lot of the Basha's supermarket in Piñon.

Eric Bekaye, age unknown, was accosted by three other men about 1:30 p.m., according to witnesses. Shoppers and employees heard multiple gunshots and then saw Bekaye on the ground with apparent wounds to his abdomen. The assailants left the scene in a vehicle.

Navajo Nation Police Capt. Dwayne Billsie did not return phone calls Friday or Monday to confirm whether arrests had been made in the incident. However, a Basha's employee said some shoppers recognized at least one of three men who accosted Bekaye and informed police of his identity.

The employee, who spoke with the Times on the condition of anonymity, said she was manning a register when a frequent patron of the store came in and signaled that someone had been shot, then pointed outside the store.

"We went out there and it was just chaos, people running in all directions," the employee said. "I went back in the store and we decided to close."

The Basha's employee said somebody called the police, who arrived on the scene about 15 to 20 minutes later. Someone had also called the Piñon Clinic, whose emergency personnel responded almost immediately and transported the victim to the Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility. An employee there said Bekaye was transferred to another facility, but said she had no information on where he was taken.

The Basha's employee said the shooting happened so quickly it appeared to be premeditated.

"We all think it was gang-related," she said. "The gangs are getting really bad here. The store's been broken into and several buildings around the store. We really need a police substation here or something."

The store reopened about two hours after the incident. Piñon schools were on lockdown for the entire afternoon, according to a school district employee.




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