Police: Shoplifter cuts Ferndale Haggen employee with pocketknife

A shoplifter faces a first-degree assault charge for cutting a Ferndale grocery store employee with a pocketknife Tuesday afternoon, March 3, according to police.

Alexander Stephen Manz, 28, grabbed a bottle of MacNaughton whisky around 3:45 p.m., then tried to walk out of the Ferndale Haggen, 1815 Main St., said Lt. Bill Hatchett.

Two employees confronted him at the exit. Manz whipped out a small pocketknife and “scraped” the forehead of one of the employees, a 46-year-old man, Hatchett said. The man had a shallow 2-inch-long cut that didn’t need emergency medical aid.

A witness told police the shoplifter — missing teeth, and wearing a black leather jacket and red sweatpants — fled in a black Acura TL. A U.S. border helicopter, police dogs and cops from around the county were called in to help search. Officers caught up to the car a quarter-mile away at the southbound on-ramp to Interstate 5. Police recovered the whisky and the pocketknife.

Manz had been trespassed from all Haggen stores for shoplifting last May from a store in Bellingham. Under state law, shoplifting plus trespassing equals a charge of burglary. Because Manz was armed, police said, he was arrested on suspicion of burglary in the first degree and assault in the first degree.

In November, Manz had been sentenced to three months in jail for two attempted break-ins in Ferndale and, in a separate incident, for pawning his ex-girlfriend’s Toshiba laptop. According to charging papers, he’d been kicked out of her house due to drug abuse.