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Witness: California corrections counselor targeted because he was charging electric vehicle

Text from suspect’s number said “I just killed somebody. Watch the news.”

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – A man present at the shooting of a corrections counselor near an electric charging station last week identified the gunman, who he said targeted the counselor because he “probably had money due to possessing an electric vehicle,” court documents say.

The man said he didn’t know Robert Pernell Roberts — whom he knows as “AWOL” — had a gun on him or was going to shoot anyone, say the reports released Tuesday morning.

Roberts, 29, is charged with murder and other offenses in the death of Benny Alcala Jr. the night of Aug. 24 outside the Target on Stockdale Highway. He i due in court Wednesday.

In addition to the witness’s statement, police retrieved call data records showing Roberts’ phone in the area before the shooting, and he was caught on surveillance cameras at nearby businesses, according to the reports.

Benny Alcala, photo courtesy of family.

Also, police say a text sent from a number linked to Roberts said, “I just killed somebody. Watch the news.”

Alcala worked within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from 2006 to his death, according to a CDCR press secretary and family. The 43-year-old was declared dead at the scene.

Alcala left home about 7:45 pm. to charge his Hyundai IONIQ5, his wife told police. She became worried around 9 p.m. after receiving a notification the vehicle had been charging too long. Alcala didn’t answer the phone

She drove to the shopping center and saw police activity.

The reports say police received a call at about 9:05 p.m. for a man lying on the sidewalk. There was a call reporting shots fired in the same area about 30 minutes earlier.

Firefighters provided medical care and declared Alcala dead at 9:20 p.m.

The witness, whose name is redacted in the court documents, said AWOL told him he needed money to get a ride back to the “hood,” according to the documents. He said AWOL saw a man charging a vehicle and figure he’d have money.

AWOL approached the man as he sat on a curb.

“He said he could not see either subject but heard one shot and he started to walk away from the area.”

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