Mask Refusal Leads to Stabbing at California Grocery Store: Police

A customer at a Vons supermarket in Santa Monica, California, was stabbed by a security guard late Monday night after he allegedly became violent when employees asked him to wear a face mask, according to police.

The Santa Monica Police Department said in a press release Tuesday that the customer entered the Vons store at around 10:35 p.m. without a face mask and began to "cause a scene."

Witnesses told police that when employees approached the customer to wear a facial covering he became "belligerent" and assaulted a staff member. A security guard then intervened and attempted to escort the customer out of the building, at which point a fight between the two ensued.

During the altercation, the security guard produced a pocket knife and stabbed the suspect several times. He then called 911 and reported the incident to be in self-defense, police said.

Andre Berryman, a shopper who witnessed the fight, told CBS Los Angeles that the customer was "bleeding profusely" where the guard had stabbed him. "That was pretty much what happened. It was all behind him not wearing a mask," Berryman added.

Police said they arrived on the scene to find the victim outside the grocery store, and immediately began providing assistance until the Santa Monica Fire Department arrived. The customer was then taken to a local hospital where police said he is recovering and is in stable condition.

"The customer is recovering at a local hospital and has been listed as stable. At the hospital, he refused to identify himself or provide any statements of the incidents. At this time, no arrests have been made. This investigation is ongoing," police said in a statement on Tuesday.

Footage taken from the scene on Monday night showed the security guard sitting on the curb surrounded by officers, according to CBS Los Angeles. It is unclear whether or not he could face any criminal charges.

"I don't have the specifics on the actual knife, if it's a pocket folding knife, then, yes, it is legal and he can be armed with it," Santa Monica police Lieutenant Rudy Flores told the news outlet.

In Los Angeles County, face masks are required in all indoor public settings, businesses, gatherings, and venues, regardless of vaccination status.

"It is important for everyone to help slow the spread of the virus by wearing masks indoors. When people wear a mask correctly, they protect others as well as themselves," the county said in a statement.

Vons supermarket mask stabbing
A customer who refused to wear a mask at a Vons supermarket in Santa Monica, California, was stabbed Monday after he allegedly became violent. Here, a Vons store is seen in Lakewood, California. Getty Images/Getty Images

Newsweek reached out to Albertsons, the parent company of Von's Supermarket, for comment.