By Darrell Todd Maurina
A half-dozen qick-thinking young employees from the unloading dock corralled a razor-wielding man with shopping carts late Thursday night at Wal-Mart, kept him from injuring customers, and finally forced his surrender shortly before police arrived.
“I’ve been in Wal-Mart for 12 years and I’ve never run into a shoplifter with a weapon before. I’ve heard about it but it’s never happened where I’ve been,” said co-manager Paul Schmidl. “Most all of the customers saw him waving this thing and realized what was going on.”
According to Clovis police reports, Emmanuel Green, 45, a homeless man currently staying in Clovis, stuffed DVDs and alcohol bottles down his pants and underneath his jacket. Green was tracked by the store’s loss prevention personnel who followed him out the front door, where he set off alarms and pulled the razor blade out when personnel tried to approach him.
“(Loss prevention staff) said Green had a razor blade in his hand and started to swing it at him in an attempt to cut him,” wrote Clovis Police Officer Marty Williamson. “He said other employees were outside also trying to help and Green was trying to cut other employees with the razor blade.
“He said this went on for about four to five minutes with Green pushing shopping carts at employees and running at them with the razor. … He and other employees pinned Green in, using shopping carts to keep their distance while waiting for police to arrive.”
Once Green was hemmed in by shopping carts and couldn’t reach employees to cut them, he dropped the razor blade and allowed himself to be handcuffed.
Schmidl was lightly injured when Green’s razor sliced his finger, but he said it wasn’t serious.
“It was one of those thin cuts that make a lot of mess,” Schmidl said.
Schmidl credited the employees for Wal-Mart’s success in apprehending the suspect.
“Normally a (shoplifting) stop like this would just be the loss prevention man and one other person, but this guy was big,” Schmidl said. “The unloaders were the ones who made the difference.”
Using shopping carts to stop a razor-wielding shoplifter isn’t something Schmidl learned in his store management classes, and he said the idea came from his unloading staff, mostly young men in their early 20s.
“The unloaders have youth, they’re not easily scared, they stayed just out of his blade range, but they stayed right with him as we were weaving in and out of the cars in the parking lot,” Schmidl said. “They were brave without taking unnecessary risks.”
Schmidl said a number of customers couldn’t get to their cars because of the altercation and he appreciated their patience.