Las Cruces Police: Accused Shoplifter Used Box Cutter On Store Employees

Apr 24, 2012


A 46-year-old man suspected in a shoplifting on Monday attempted to elude capture and used a box cutter to assault store employees, leaving one with a lacerated forearm.


Michael Gristy, of Organ, N.M., is charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, two counts of aggravated assault, shoplifting and conspiracy.


Shortly after 5 p.m. Monday, April 23, Las Cruces Police were called to the Hobby Lobby store at 2350 E. Lohman Ave., where Gristy was being held by three employees and an off-duty Border Patrol agent.


Detectives learned that a security sensor activated when a woman exited the store without paying for merchandise. A manager of the store followed the woman and tried to get her to return to the store, but she refused and ran away. The store manager grabbed the woman’s purse but was immediately struck by a man, later identified as Gristy. The woman ran to a car and sped away, leaving Gristy and her purse behind.


Three Hobby Lobby employees followed Gristy as he went across the parking lot, on foot, toward the nearby McDonald’s restaurant. Along the way, Gristy became agitated and pulled out a box cutter to threaten the store employees. When Gristy turned to run away, two of the employees tackled him to the ground.


One of the employees received a small laceration on his forearm from Gristy’s box cutter during the altercation. Gristy got up and continued running toward the McDonald’s when an off-duty Border Patrol agent used his personal pickup to block Gristy’s path.


The agent and store employees were then able to detain Gristy until police arrived. The employee who received the laceration was treated for his injuries at the scene.


Surveillance video revealed that Gristy and the woman were in Hobby Lobby together prior to them leaving the store. Gristy is being held at the Dona Ana County DetentionCenter. Charges against his accomplice are pending.