An employee at a Seattle-area Safeway grocery store stabbed a suspected shoplifter multiple times Wednesday night, but police in Bellevue, Washington, said it appears the employee was acting in self-defense.
Police and emergency personnel responded to a 911 call around 10:30 p.m. A caller said a man was lying in the street near a neighborhood bank and appeared to have been stabbed.
Arriving at the scene, medics found a 37-year-old man who had been stabbed multiple times. He was taken to a nearby hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries.
At around the same time, Bellevue police responded to another emergency call from a nearby Safeway store, where they found an employee in his mid-40s who had obviously been in a fight.
Seth Tyler of the Bellevue police told KOMO News a preliminary investigation found the stabbing victim had been in the grocery store and tried to steal some items but was stopped by the employee. The two men got in a fight and the shoplifting suspect is believed to have hit the employee with a bottle of liquor before running from the store.
KIRO News reports the employee then chased the man into the parking lot where they fought again. At some point during that fight the employee stabbed the alleged shoplifter multiple times, police said.
Witnesses at the scene said they believe the employee shouldn’t have chased the man.
“No, I think you should call the police. It's kind of too dangerous,” said Agus Daud.
Jennifer Barda, who works nearby, agreed, but said she hoped the employee got to keep his job.
A spokesman from Safeway said it was too early to make any decisions about the employee’s future.
“At this point, it’s premature to comment until we have all the information,” he said. “The matter is under police investigation and we are doing all we can to assist the Bellevue Police Department with that effort.”
Police said the stabbing victim could face first-degree robbery charges because of the assault on the employee. The Safeway worker is unlikely to face charges, they said, but told KOMO that it was still too early to know for sure.