ST. LOUIS — A 27-year-old man has been charged after an employee at the Fields Foods grocery store on Lafayette Avenue was physically assaulted early Thursday morning, police said.
Sidney Dawkins is charged with first-degree assault, armed criminal action and stealing.
It happened just after the store opened its doors for the morning, Fields Foods' owner Chris Goodson said.
"We're putting the produce out, getting the boxes out, having the first cup of coffee to get your eyes open and then literally at 7:05 is when this happened," Goodson said.
He rushed over to the Lafayette Square store moments after it happened.
Goodson said the man came into the store acting "very irrational," and that the man had been banned from the store.
"Deliberately attacked him. Started with a fist to the face, there was a weapon pulled, my manager defended himself and at that time another weapon, a knife was pulled and he was cut and lacerated on the face and hand," Goodson said.
Police said the man had a gun and was complaining about being banned from the store. While the employee tried to disarm him, the gun went off. The man then took out a knife and swung it at the store employee, who was cut while trying to swipe it away.
A probable cause statement said that an officer with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department responding to a call for a shooting at Field Foods was told that the suspect, later identified as Dawkins, had left the area.
The officer, according to the statement, drove in the direction Dawkins had last been seen traveling toward. The officer witnessed a person matching Dawkins' description. He was arrested after a brief foot chase.
The statement said Dawkins had a wallet with $420 in cash, identification and credit cards belonging to the victim; a small pistol with a magazine and a pocketknife "covered with blood spots."
The victim told officers that Dawkins punched him in the face during a conversation and pulled a gun from his waistband. The victim said he and Dawkins struggled and Dawkins pulled out a sharp object that police believe to be a knife and cut the victim on his hand and cheek. The officer witnessed cuts on the victim's face and hand that match the victim's description of the incident.
"He's in good spirits. He has received a laceration on the face and a rather deep laceration, I guess that's the right word to use, on the palm of his hand," Goodson said.
Out-of-towners Lori and Robert Wolfe couldn't believe this all happened hours before their visit.
"I felt very safe in there I didn't see that there was going to be an issues at all," Wolfe said.
Erin W., who said she did not want to give her last name, said she used to work there and wasn't surprised.
"It's sad and crazy but it's not that unexpected, because it's always something happening up here," Erin W. said.
Goodson decided to keep the doors open for the day, making a statement that he isn't going to let the bad guys win.
"We're trying to rebuild this area, and we're not going to let events like this deter us, and my employees feel the same way," Goodson said.
The call initially came in to police as a shooting.
When police arrived they saw the man running away and after a brief chase, took him into custody.
Goodson confirmed the man was not a former Fields Foods employee.
He said they have off-duty cops that work security here, but there wasn't one at the time of the attack.
Resources for crime victims:
If you have been a victim of a crime or know someone who has been, 5 On Your Side has compiled a list of resources.
Better Family Life is a nonprofit community development organization working to “stabilize inner-city neighborhoods.” One aspect of its mission is a gun violence de-escalation program.
To learn more, call 314-381-8200 or visit https://www.betterfamilylife.org/
Life Outside of Violence “helps those harmed by stabbing, gunshot or assault receive the treatment, support and resources they need to find alternatives to end the cycle of violence.”
To learn more, call 314-327-6697 or email: ProjectLOV@WUSTL.edu
The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis has an anti-crime program called “Safety Net for Youth Initiative,” which is a joint partnership with Saint Louis Public Schools to provide services to at-risk youth.
To learn more, visit https://www.ulstl.com/anti-crime-initiative.html
Cure Violence is an international organization that has recently launched in a handful of St. Louis neighborhoods. Violence interrupters are trained to deescalate violent situations within their own communities. To learn more, visit https://cvg.org/