Authorities said a Merced man pleaded not guilty Thursday in connection with the stabbing and robbing of a store owner.
“We honestly have no idea why this happened because our suspect wouldn’t talk to us,” Merced Police Sgt. Jay Struble said. “He just keep spitting at us and telling us to call 911. We tried to tell him that we are 911, but he wasn’t believing it.”
Eduardo Tarin Angel, 23, appeared briefly Thursday via video monitor in Merced Superior Court and pleaded not guilty to felony counts of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, burglary, resisting arrest and drug-paraphernalia possession.
Police said it was possible that Angel was under the influence of drugs Saturday during the attack on Japinderpal Sarang, the 47-year-old owner of the Handi Stop market in the 1400 block of East Yosemite Parkway.
Investigators said Angel entered the store about 9:20 a.m., inquired about the price of beanie-style hat and then pulled a knife. After putting the hat on his head, police said, the suspect charged around the counter and attacked Sarang.
“He was just ringing him up, and he just all of a sudden comes after my husband,” Dimple Sarang, the owner’s wife, said Thursday.
She said neither she nor her husband had ever seen the suspect in the store before that day.
Police described the attack as “wild” and “violent.”
“We viewed the surveillance tape and he (the assailant) was swinging very, very violently, then they started wrestling on the ground in a fight,” Struble said. “After looking at the tape, we added attempted murder.”
Police said Sarang fought back, punching and kicking before he got his hands on a stun gun he keeps in the store. Dimple Sarang said the stun gun did not seem to affect the attacker. Sarang’s injuries were not life-threatening, police said.
“My husband didn’t see any knife, at first,” she said.
Sarang was stabbed and slashed numerous times and suffered injuries to his head, neck, chest, arms and legs, but kept fighting, police said, as bottles of liquor crashed down on the two men during the scuffle.
Another customer came in and saw them rolling on the ground and eventually took the knife away from the assailant, Struble said.
On Thursday, Merced County Superior Court Commissioner Jeanne E. Schechter set Angel’s bail at more than $665,000 and appointed the Merced County Public Defender’s Office to represent him.
Schechter ordered Angel to return to court Jan. 6 for further proceedings.
Dimple Sarang said she and her husband have owned the store for more than 22 years and nothing like this has ever happened before.
“Sometimes the kids do the beer runs and take the beer, but not like this,” she said.
She said her husband received stitches to the back of his head, neck, chest and arms.
“He’s doing better now, and he did fight that man good,” she said. “I’m glad that he is OK.”