LAS CRUCES NM April 26 2012 - Police arrested a man Monday who allegedly slashed a Hobby Lobby employee with a box cutter after he and an unidentified woman tried to leave the Las Cruces store without paying for merchandise.
Three Hobby Lobby employees and an off-duty Border Patrol agent teamed up to detain Michael Gristy, 46, of Organ, N.M., until Las Cruces police officers responded to the store at 2350 E Lohman Ave., just after 5 p.m.
One employee suffered a lacerated elbow from Gristy’s box cutter during a struggle, police said.
Gristy, who was arrested, is being held at the Doña Ana County Detention Center. He is charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, two counts of aggravated assault, shoplifting and conspiracy.
Police are also looking to charge a woman who was seen on surveillance video with Gristy inside Hobby Lobby just before the alleged shoplifting.
The alleged accomplice set off a security sensor when she left the store without paying for merchandise. A store manager followed her outside, but she refused to return to the store and ran away, police said.
The store manager grabbed the woman’s purse, but was immediately struck by Gristy, police said. The woman ran to a car and sped away, leaving Gristy and her purse behind.
Three Hobby Lobby employees followed Gristy as he walked across the parking lot toward a nearby McDonald’s restaurant. Police said Gristy became agitated and pulled out a box cutter to threaten the employees.
When Gristy turned to run away, two employees tackled him to the ground. After allegedly cutting one employee with his box cutter, Gristy got up and continued running to the McDonald’s until an off-duty Border Patrol agent arrived and used his pickup truck to block Gristy’s path, police said.
The agent and store employees were then able to detain Gristy until police arrived. The employee who received the laceration was treated for his injuries at the scene, police said.