Police say shoplifter pulled sword

No injuries; guard at same store lost part of ear in attack

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LONGVIEW — A man brandished a samurai sword at a Fred Meyer security guard who was trying to stop him from stealing at the Longview store Monday afternoon, police said.

The incident comes just five days after a shoplifter was sentenced to 35 years in prison for chopping off part of the left ear of a security guard at the same Fred Meyer on Dec. 11. The victim in that attack, David Morrison, who is the security department’s manager, has not returned to work full time and was not present during Monday’s confrontation, Longview officer Ryan Blonien said.

Blonien said the suspect in Monday’s confrontation turned and waved a 2-foot-long sword when a store security employee confronted him at around 12:30 p.m. The employee wasn’t injured, and the suspect fled.

Blonien said police were still searching Monday afternoon for the suspect, who is white and wore a black hat, a black leather jacket and jeans. No other description was available shortly after the incident, Blonien said. Police did not identify the security guard or say what the suspect was attempting to steal.

Monday’s confrontation bore a chilling similarity to the December attack, in which Adrian Kramer was wheeling a shopping cart of stolen merchandise from the store when he suddenly turned and swung an hatchet at Morrison, who was closing in to confront him. Doctors were unable to attach Morrison’s ear.

In an interview following Kramer’s trial, Morrison said the Longview store is plagued by shoplifters and that, in this area, the problem is rivaled only by Fred Meyer stores in urban Portland.

Fred Meyer’s loss-prevention specialists, who are tasked with spotting and stopping shoplifters, are governed by the store’s hands-off policy, which means they can’t grab or otherwise physically restrain suspected shoplifters, Morrison said. He said stopping shoplifters has become increasingly dangerous and that the policy needs to be revised to allow security staff to more aggressively confront particularly brazen thieves.

On Monday, Blonien, who responded to the December hatchet attack and testified in Kramer’s trial, found himself once again in the store’s parking lot. Part of the problem, he said, is that the store is near a few high-crime neighborhoods that cause “big problems.”