Police Search For Assault, Attempted Robbery Suspect

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — St. Paul Police investigators are asking for the public’s help to identify a man accused of assaulting a store clerk during an attempted armed robbery.

Police say the incident occurred at 10 p.m. on June 8 at the AA Avenue Grocery, 682 Selby Ave. The clerk, Hakim Benyhai, was locking the door for the night when a man wearing a mask forced open the door and ran into the business.

The man displayed a handgun, demanded money and chased Benyhai toward the back of the store, according to police.

“When I turned back I saw his gun and I thought, no way is he going to kill me. I’m going to fight with him,” Benyhai said.

The man then began assaulting Benyhai as the two fought over the handgun. While the two were fighting, Benyhai pulled off the man’s mask, hoping to expose his face to surveillance cameras, and was able to grab a can of tuna from the shelf and strike the man on the head.

“I tried to take the gun from him and I was hurting him with this,” Benyhai said, holding the can of tuna.

The man continued to punch Benyhai as the two moved toward the front of the store, where Benyhai finally forced the man out. He locked the front door and immediately called police.

“Generally we tell people to comply with the robber’s wishes, but in this case, as we can see in the video, this was a sudden attack,” said Officer John Keating of the St. Paul Police.

Benyhai had cuts and scrapes to his head, hands and knees but did not require medical attention.

Benyhai has been a store clerk at the grocery store for five years.

The robber is described as a black man, 18-20 years old, between 5-foot-7 and 5-foot-9, with a medium build with short, curly hair. He was wearing a black jacket or sweatshirt with a hood, blue jeans and a black mask.

The incident was captured on surveillance video which can be viewed at the St. Paul Police’s website.

“As the video shows, we need to find this person so he doesn’t have the opportunity to do this again,” Keating said.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the St. Paul Police Robbery/Homicide Unit at 651-266-5650.


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