Save Mart employee attacked by vodka-wielding thief, police say

Merced police say a 22-year-old man is in jail after allegedly trying to steal alcohol from a Save Mart and attacking an employee with a bottle of vodka.

Suspect John Barnard was arrested after store employees detained him at the 1300 West Olive Avenue store. The incident was reported at 9:55 p.m. Saturday, according to Sgt. Bobby Chapman.

Police say the suspect and another male entered the store and went to the liquor section. After picking up some alcohol, the men walked toward the checkout stand, but went by without paying.

The men walked into the parking lot, but were confronted by store employees about the theft. The second thief ran and employees tried to apprehend Barnard, Chapman said.

Rather than submit, Barnard cracked a bottle of vodka over the head of an employee and pulled a knife. Still, the employees were successful in disarming Barnard and holding him until police arrived at the scene.

Chapman said the employee had a bump on his head, but refused medical treatment.

Barnard was booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of felony robbery, burglary and assault charges. He's being held in lieu $100,000 bail.

The second suspect remains at large. He's described as a white male or light complexioned Hispanic male in his 20s, about 5-feet-9-inches tall, weighing about 160-170 pounds. He was wearing a black ball cap with a red bill.

Police are asking anyone with information about the second suspect's whereabouts to call Detective Scott Skinner at (209) 385-4702 or the department's automated tipline at (209) 385-4725. Tips are kept confidential and you can remain anonymous.

Information can also be sent via anonymous text message by dialing “TIP411” (847411) and including the word “ComVIP” as the keyword in the text message.

— Sun-Star staff