Portland police have arrested the man they say attacked a Westbrook man early Sunday morning in Monument Square.

Police say William Googins, 20, of Gray turned himself in to Portland police at 4 p.m.

Police had informed people familiar with Googins that they were looking for him.

Police plan a news conference about the case at 5 p.m.

Police say Googins attacked Eric Benson, 24 of Westbrook in a random act of violence. An autopsy was scheduled for today to determine the cause of Benson’s death.

Police say the attack was a random act that involved people who had been drinking.

Googins was accompanied by two other men when the attack occurred at 1:25 a.m. but no others were charged in the case, police said.

2:51 p.m.

Police say Eric Benson was attacked Sunday morning in Monument Square after a passing group of men started talking to Benson’s female companion.

Benson and the woman were walking in Monument Square at 1:25 a.m. after spending time in the Old Port when three men passed them. The men made comments to the woman and a brief conversation followed, said Portland police Lt. Gary Rogers.

One of the men, described as 20 to 30 years old, 5-feet-6 to 5-feet-9 inches tall, then attacked Benson. Despite treatment administered by witnesses at the scene and other medical personnel, Benson was pronounced dead at Maine Medical Center later Sunday morning.

Rogers said no weapon was involved.

Police have several witnesses and are collecting surveillance video and photographs from area businesses, Rogers said.

An autopsy by the State Medical Examiner is scheduled for today.

Authorities say it is unusual for someone to be killed in an assault that does not involve a weapon. However, there have been cases where someone was knocked unconscious and hit their head on the ground as they collapsed, leading to a fatal injury.

11:04 a.m.

PORTLAND — The State Medical Examiner is planning to conduct an autopsy today on a 24-year-old Westbrook man killed over the weekend in Monument Square.

The Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the identity of the man killed as Eric Benson.

Three men attacked Benson early Sunday shortly after closing time at area bars. He was with a woman who was not harmed in the assault.

Portland police say they are aggressively investigating the case. Anyone with information is asked to call 874-8575.

10:22 a.m.

Police say a Westbrook man died late Sunday morning, hours after being assaulted by three men in Monument Square.
On his Facebook page, David Benson of Portland identified the victim as his son, Eric Benson, 24.

“Bad day for the family. Eric is in ICU and it does not look good,” was an early message posted on Benson’s Facebook page.

His most recent post said, “Thanks everyone for all your prayers. Eric has passed and should be in a better place with his grandmother looking down on us all.”

Lynn Gobiel, a nursing supervisor at Maine Medical Center in Portland, also confirmed that a patient named Eric Benson had died at the hospital  Sunday morning.

Police said that Benson and a female friend were walking from the Old Port through Monument Square in Portland early Sunday when they were confronted by three males.

The men assaulted Benson and knocked him unconscious, according to a statement released by police Lt. Gary Rogers. As witnesses rushed to help, the three men fled.

When police arrived around 1:25 a.m. after being notified by a 911 caller, they found Benson lying unconscious on the ground. He was taken by ambulance to Maine Medical Center. His female companion, who was unharmed, has not been identified.

Police interviewed witnesses and described one of Benson’s attackers as being Hispanic or Middle Eastern in appearance, 20 to 30 years old, 5-feet-6 to 5-feet-9 tall, and wearing a yellow shirt with baggy jeans and a hip-hop style flat-brimmed hat. His companions were dressed in a similar fashion.

“It was random,” Rogers said. “The guys approached him and her. I don’t know what the intent was.”

Assistant Police Chief Mike Sauschuck said that because the victim died in the hospital, police procedures prevent them from releasing his name. Under those circumstances, the name must be released by the state Medical Examiner’s Office, he said.

Sauschuck also would not characterize the attack as a homicide. “It’s still an open investigation,” he said.

According to Eric Benson’s  Facebook page, he attended the University of Maine at Farmington, graduating this year. His interests were listed as snowboarding, skiing, autocross, Jet Skiing and mountain biking. He was a member of the Cumberland Motor Club.

Attempts to reach his father were unsuccessful, but Wendy Nowell of Kennebunk said she went to school with Eric’s parents in Gorham. They graduated from Gorham High School.

“I have been friends with Wendy and Dave (Benson) since junior high school,” Nowell said Sunday night. “But I haven’t seen Eric for years. I knew him when he was a little boy.”

Nowell said Eric Benson had a twin brother named Andrew.

“They are a great, loving family,” Nowell said. “I’ve been crying on and off throughout the day.”

Anyone with information concerning the assault is urged to contact police detectives at 874-8575.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]

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