- Associated Press - Friday, October 3, 2014

BELLEVUE, Wash. (AP) - A grocery store employee who stabbed a shoplifting suspect was defending himself after being hit in the head with a bottle, Bellevue police said Thursday.

The 37-year-old suspect was stabbed multiple times and taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with life-threatening injuries, police spokesman Seth Tyler said. He is accused of shoplifting liquor and a basket of items about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday at the downtown Safeway.

The employee is a man in his 40s who was hit in the store when he confronted the suspect. He chased the suspect to a parking lot where they fought and the suspect was stabbed with a knife belonging to the employee, Tyler said.

The employee returned to the store, where he was questioned by detectives and allowed to go free because it “appears to be a case of self-defense,” Tyler said Thursday.

The suspect could face a robbery charge because an assault was committed during a theft, the officer said.

Police responded to 911 calls from two scenes - the store and the parking lot about two blocks away. They found the wounded suspect down in the street and the bloody employee at the store.

There were several witnesses, and police continue to investigate, Tyler said.

A spokesman at the Safeway office in Pleasanton, California, has been asked to comment on the stabbing.

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