Pleasanton Home Depot shooting suspect claims she 'accidentally' fired gun, killing employee

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Friday, April 21, 2023
Home Depot shooting suspect claims she 'accidentally' fired gun
Pleasanton Home Depot shooting suspect claims she "accidentally" fired her gun, killing employee Blake Mohs.

PLEASANTON, Calif. (KGO) -- Newly released court documents reveal the 32-year-old woman accused of shooting and killing 26-year-old Blake Mohs inside of a Pleasanton Home Depot, told investigators she fired the gun "accidentally" after Mohs, a loss prevention employee, tried to wrestle a stolen item out of her hands.

Police say Benicia Knapps was holding her 21-month-old toddler when she took off in a getaway car driven by 31-year-old David Guillory that had been parked by the back loading dock of the store.

The car was quickly tracked by an Alameda County Sheriff's Office aircraft to Knapps' home in Oakland.

When the deputies arrived, they saw her get out of the car holding her toddler and hand the child to her grandmother, before they say, Guillory ran and hid.

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"As soon as there was confirmation of where that vehicle was and that vehicle was stopped, the deputies were able to quickly make contact and get those folks into custody," Lt. Tya Modeste, a spokesperson for the Alameda County Sheriff's Office said.

The sheriff's office says Knapps was sitting alone in the backseat of a patrol car for about 10 minutes, as deputies waited for Pleasanton police to take her into their custody.

When a deputy went back to check on her and move the patrol car, that's when they realized, something was terribly wrong.

"And noticed that she was kind of slouched down in the seat and so he opened the back door and called her name and her body was limp, she was unresponsive," Modeste said.

That deputy then called his partner over for help.

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They say, despite being handcuffed, she was somehow able to wrap a seatbelt around her neck three times.

"They were able to kind of sit her up, push her head back and untangle the seatbelt from around her neck. At that point, they pulled her out of the car, and while she was on the ground, she took an enormous breath and regained consciousness," she said. "Deputies absolutely saved a life, they did."

The sheriff's office says they take an oath to protect life, no matter what.

"What she's accused of doing before, has no relevance in the fact that she was attempting to take her own life and was suffering a medical emergency and deputies take an oath that they're going to protect life and that's what they did," she said.

It's something Mohs' long-time friend, and fellow Eagle Scout, Vincent Tran has mixed feelings over.

"I'm just glad that she'll be able to live out her sentence, and be punished and she will hopefully understand the consequences of her own actions and kind of take on full justice for this," Tran said. "Blake was one of the greatest people that I've ever known."

Meanwhile, Mohs' parents in Newark, are focusing on remembering their son as the selfless, Disney-loving man who dreamed of someday also taking his own oath to protect life, by becoming a police officer.

"Just because he's not here right now, doesn't mean that all of those lives, all of the people that he touched, aren't going to pass that forward," Lorie Mohs, the victim's mother said. "Blake had a short life. Only 26 years. But he lived it."

The Alameda County Sheriff's Office formally filed a laundry list of charges against Knapps and Guillory on Thursday afternoon.

Knapps is being charged with murder, along with several enhancements and possession of a firearm by a felon with priors.

Both are being charged with child abuse.

Guillory is being charged with accessory after the fact for knowledge of the robbery and evading an officer.

He is expected to be arraigned in court on Friday morning at 9 a.m.

Knapps is not in the custody of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office yet and is still being treated in the hospital.

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