Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Store clerk refused to call 911 for stabbing victim

After a 14-year-old boy was chased into a Livermore, California convenience store by an assailant and stabbed, the boy asked the store's clerk to call 911. The boy was told to go outside and call from a pay phone.

Police and employees of Fast & Easy Food & Liquor said that a miscommunication occurred between the boy and the clerk. The clerk thought he waw kidding, Livermore police Detective Joshua Ratcliffe said. "According to the (security) video at the store, it was not really obvious (the stabbing occurred)."

The assault took place Jan. 26 and was gang-related, police said. The victim told investigators that he and four friends passed a wedding reception party, and one of the boy's friends exchanged words with a party guest, later identified as Daniel Cortez-Beltran.

According to a police report, the suspect -- who identified himself as a Sureno gang member -- confused the boys for rival gang members because they were wearing red. He then began to chase the five boys, who fled inside the Fast & Easy. The four friends hid in the back of the store while the victim remained at the counter. The suspect followed them inside, walked up to the boy, stabbed him in the torso with a knife and ran out. The victim was transported to a local hospital and released the next day. According to a police report, the boy asked the clerk to call 911, but the clerk told the boy to go outside to use a pay phone.

The store's manager, Shekher Dhungel, said Fast & Easy has only two employees. The employee working at the time was Baljit Singh.

"I didn't see it happen, and I thought they were joking," Singh said. "Then, another customer said (the boy) had been stabbed, so I called police. But by that time, someone else had made the call." Dhungel said the following day, the boy's mother came in to complain that police were not called sooner. Ratcliffe said he watched the security video and said it was difficult to spot the assault. He said gang members frequent the store. (info from San Jose Mercury News)

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