Clerk Stabbed by Alleged Thief

A liquor store clerk who had escaped a robber was stabbed five times when he tried to help the owner of another store confront the same thief, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

Numa Morales, 44, was in critical condition Monday at Holy Cross Hospital with stab wounds to his stomach, back, shoulder and earlobe, police said.

Morales was working Sunday night at Jerry's Liquor on Vineland Avenue when Saul Cruz, 26, came in and asked Morales for money, said Detective Jim Gerardi. When Morales said he had none, Cruz threatened him with a 9-inch knife, Gerardi said.

Morales pushed a nearby shopping cart toward Cruz and escaped out the rear of the store, Gerardi said.

Meanwhile, Cruz ran across the street to another liquor store, stole a bottle of beer, and the store's owner followed Cruz outside, demanding that he pay for it, Gerardi said.

Morales saw the men arguing and went to assist the store owner. Cruz threw the beer bottle at Morales and stabbed him, Gerardi said.

Patrolling police officers saw the struggle and arrested Cruz on suspicion of attempted murder, Gerardi said.

Cruz, who is on parole for an arson conviction, was being held at the LAPD's Van Nuys station and will be arraigned today. No bail was set, Gerardi said.

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