BENSON — Wild Dogs, a popular Benson restaurant, was destroyed in a fire early Friday morning.
“The fire started sometime around 2 a.m. and we were contacted at 4,” said Scott Badeker, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Gail.
Described by Scott Badeker as a “hot, fast-moving fire that gutted the inside of the restaurant,” the cause is under investigation.
Benson Fire Chief Keith Spangler said the fire department investigated the cause and origin of the blaze, found it to be suspicious, and then contacted Benson PD detectives for further investigation.
“This is a potential criminal investigation,” said Spangler, who added, “I hate to see anyone lose their business. I want to thank Mescal fire, Pomerene fire and Health Care Innovations for assisting.”
The fire’s cause and origin will be announced once detectives complete the investigation.
When the Badekers started Wild Dogs, they operated out of a 24-foot trailer for 7½ years. Two years ago they purchased the building that once housed Rebs Cafe & Coffee Shop at 1020 W. Fourth St.
In July 2018 Wild Dogs was recognized by Money magazine as one of the 10 best places in the country for a hot dog. Known for its Vienna all-beef hot dogs, varied menu, friendly service and roadside charm, Scott said he and Gail strived to create a family-friendly establishment with a fun atmosphere.
“Our goal was to be the place that our customers deserved,” he said. “I feel that we earned every customer and treated every single day like our first day in business, because it could be our last.”
When asked about plans for reopening the business, Badeker said, “It’s too soon to know what we’re going to do. We’re still likcking our wounds. This was a nice little place and I know we’re going to miss it.”
Reopening, Badeker said, is something Gail would have to want as well.
“This business was a team effort and we were equally involved at all levels,” he said.
Including the Badekers, six people are now unemployed as a result of the fire.
Artists Sharon and Doug Quarles also suffered serious losses because of the blaze, as their art gallery was attached to the building.
“A dividing wall between the restaurant and this space we were in actually protected about 60% of our artwork,” Doug Quarles said. “We’re going to have to go through everything and get a better idea of the overall damage, but considering how devastating this fire was, I think we’re pretty lucky.”
The Quarles have decided to walk away from the damaged building and will not be reestablishing a gallery in that same location.
“We’re very sad for Scott and Gail,” Sharon Quarles said. “They had a wonderful restaurant and have lost everything. Wild Dogs was very popular and this is a huge loss to the community.”
The body cam video of a Cochise County Sheriff’s deputy who shot a man accused of pointing a rifle at the law enforcement officer shows the lawman gave the suspect more than ample opportunity to drop his firearm before he shot him in the chest.
The video of Deputy Rene Meza, about 30 minutes long, reveals how a call for a disturbance — a misdemeanor — quickly unraveled and turned into a violent, felony situation.
The shooting is being investigated by Sierra Vista Police, as is customary in such matters. Usually, an outside law enforcement agency is brought in to investigate when an officer or deputy discharges his or her weapon in the line of duty.
On Nov. 1, Meza arrived at a house on East Running Coyote Trail in Hereford after someone in the residence called for help regarding a disturbance. During the call, the person said of Helgar Rosas, “the man is crazy,” Sierra Vista Police later said.
When Meza drove up to the house, Rosas’ wife, Queen Rosas, was standing outside the front door. Within seconds, Rosas emerged, a rifle in his hands.
Immediately, Meza ran for cover and yelled at Rosas several times to put the gun down. Rosas could be heard yelling expletives at Meza and egging him on to shoot him. Meza repeatedly changed positions, running from behind one vehicle to another to avoid the approaching Rosas.
Meza at one point yells, “Get away! Get away!” to no avail.
Both Queenie Rosas and an older woman later identified as Rosas’ mother could be heard screaming in the background.
Finally, the camera shows Rosas walking quickly toward a sport utility vehicle that Meza was crouching behind. Rosas stood a few feet from the deputy.
Rosas, pointing the weapon at Meza, then yelled out: “Kill me, mother (expletive)!”
At that point Meza shot Rosas in the chest, prompting the 40-year-old suspect to fall to his knees.
As Rosas yelled in pain, his wife ran to him and also knelt down, the body cam shows. Meza repeatedly told her to get away from Rosas. Queenie Rosas then yelled at Meza: “You want to kill my husband?”
The weapon Rosas was wielding turned out to be an air rifle, Sierra Vista Police said earlier this week.
After Queen Rosas was separated from Rosas and handcuffed, she told Meza that Rosas was “withdrawing” and that this mother had “been on him all day.”
“He tried to get away from her,” Queenie Rosas told Meza. “He’s a good father.”
Rosas was airlifted to a Tucson hospital. He was arrested last week and has been charged with aggravated assault on an officer, two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct/fighting.
Meza, who was not injured in the skirmish, has been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure in such incidents. Sierra Vista Police Cpl. Scott Borgstadt said Friday the shooting investigation is ongoing. He asked that if anyone has information about the incident, please call Sierra Vista Police, 520-452-7500.
Meanwhile, the bodycam video shows that as Rosas was being examined by paramedics, Meza spoke briefly with the suspect’s mother, who was sitting in another vehicle waiting for the crime scene to be cleared. The mother had repeatedly stated that the firearm Rosas was wielding was not real.
Pointing at the air rifle, which was left on the ground near Meza’s patrol car, the deputy said to the suspect’s mother, “That looks like a real gun to me.”
The mother nodded her head and said, “I know.”