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Store clerk assaulted for not selling man beer

The Sheriff’s Department is currently seeking a man who assaulted a grocery store clerk on February 24 in Fallbrook.

According to Sheriff’s Detective Dan Laibach, the suspect entered the Bonita Foods market on the evening of February 22 and tried to buy beer but was denied the purchase by the clerk because he was obviously intoxicated.

The man yelled at the clerk and “started a big fuss” but left the store without his purchase, said Laibach.

However, on February 24 at 2 p.m., the clerk, a young woman in her early 20s, was walking to work through the alley next to Bonita Foods when the suspect confronted her.

The suspect reportedly struck the clerk on the side of the head, knocking her unconscious. He then proceeded to kick her while she was on the ground.

When the clerk regained consciousness, the suspect threatened to kill her if she told anyone what had happened, then fled the scene.

The clerk managed to walk into the store, where her manager called paramedics, who transported the woman to Fallbrook Hospital.

Laibach said the woman suffered a black eye and strained neck in the attack.

The suspect is described as a Hispanic male in his 40s, 5’ 7’’ tall, around 200 pounds, with a mustache. At the time of the attack he was wearing a white-collared shirt, jeans and tennis shoes. The suspect is known as a transient who has been seen drinking alcohol in the Bonita Foods parking lot.

Laibach said the suspect will be charged with assault with a deadly weapon when found. While he has not been spotted since the incident, Bonita Foods employees have been advised to call 9-1-1 if the suspect is seen on or near the premises.

The attack has left a lasting impression on other grocery store employees, who said the suspect is not the only drunken customer who has acted out when not sold alcohol.

“It makes you nervous to work later shifts,” said one employee, who asked not to be identified. “There are a lot of drunks who wait around in the parking lot and they take it personally if I do not sell them alcohol. It’s not my fault I can’t sell them alcohol.”

Librado Zuniga, who has been manager of Bonita Foods for more than seven years, said this is the first time a clerk has been assaulted by a customer.

“I was shocked when I heard what had happened. We have men like this come in all the time, but this is the first time something like this happened,” Zuniga said.

Zuniga also said drunks have been known to loiter around the market. In order to protect the property and his employees, he is in the process of installing a video surveillance system.

“This was an ugly situation,” he said. “The clerks are just doing their job and [the victim] shouldn’t have had to pay outside of work for something she was required to do.”

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