18-year-old accused of shooting man outside Bonita Springs grocery store

Published: August 16, 2022 9:35 AM EDT
Updated: August 16, 2022 9:36 AM EDT
Eric Linares, 18. Credit: Lee County Sheriff's Office

An 18-year-old man was arrested in Bonita Springs on Thursday as a suspect in a shooting at a grocery store earlier in August.

According to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Myers man Eric Linares was arrested after deputies went to Benson’s Grocery Store, located at 27301 Old 41 Road, on Aug. 7 after reports of a shooting. They spoke to a witness who said his friend got into a verbal argument with two other men, one of whom entered a white Ford F-150, retrieved a firearm and shot the victim in the arm. Both suspects then fled east on Wilson Street towards Felts Avenue in a black Ford truck.

The victim was transported to Gulf Coast Hospital with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound that shattered the humerus bone in his right arm. The injury required surgery.

A violent crimes detective spoke to the victim, who explained that he and his friend were driving down Old 41 when two unknown men yelled obscenities at the victim. The victim pulled into the parking lot of Benson’s Grocery Store and confronted the two men before one shot the victim in the arm and both men sped away.

The name of a local man was provided to deputies as a possible suspect. That man told deputies he picked up Eric Linares, his coworker, and Linares’ brother after Linares said he and his brother had gotten into a fight at Benson’s Grocery Store. On the way to the man’s home, Linares said he shot someone in the parking lot. The man did not see a gun on Linares and did not call the police after the brothers left, because he did not want to get involved, but later called his father.

Deputies interviewed Linares and his brother. Both put themselves at the scene where the shooting took place but said they did not know who the shooter was, even though Linares admitted that the white F-150 left at the scene belonged to him. Detectives later recovered surveillance video that showed Linares and his brother running away from the scene directly after the shooting. The video showed Linares placing a black object into his waistband as he was running away.

In a follow-up interview, LCSO says Linares admitted that he and his brother were caught on the surveillance footage running away from the shooting, but claimed he was shown putting away his phone, not a gun. On Thursday, however, additional video footage was taken from Benson’s, and the new camera angle clearly showed Linares running away while holding a firearm in his right hand.

Linares faces a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.