The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Customers subdue man attacking store clerk
BY DONNIE JOHNSTON
It may have started over the price of a bottle of cold water on a hot day.
Then again, it may have started with an argument at a junkyard.
Whatever the beginning, the end result was three customers in a Culpeper convenience store holding down a slightly inebriated man accused of ripping out an ATM to prove his strength and then chasing a store clerk around the building and pummeling her.
When the midday Monday incident was over, Culpeper police charged 29-year-old Steven Alan Sager of Broadway in Rockingham County with felony abduction and misdemeanor charges of assault and battery, destruction of property, disorderly conduct and being drunk in public.
Detective Jeff Dodson said Sager, who was a passenger in a wrecker towing a pickup, got into an argument with employees at a rural junkyard before the wrecker arrived at the Horizon Food Store at the corner of Madison Road and Sunset Lane to get gas.
There, according to Dodson, Sager got into an argument with the store owners over the price of a bottle of water.
“He was talking incoherently and not making much sense,” said Dodson.
At some point during the incident, Sager “became agitated and hollered to the clerks he would prove how strong he was,” according to town public information officer Wally Bunker.
“He proceeded to rip the face off the store’s ATM, exposing wires,” Bunker said.
While the strength demonstration was in progress (during which Sager cut his hands), a “panic alarm” was sent to the Culpeper County Public Safety Communications Center and the female clerk at the store went outside to get the license-plate number of the wrecker.
Sager asked her what she was doing and she didn’t reply, Bunker said.
According to Bunker, Sager chased the woman into the store and around the aisles, hitting her in the back with a bottle of vitamin water. He finally caught her behind the counter, where Bunker said he “knocked her down, held her to the floor and started pounding on her.”
By this time, three customers had seen enough and they grabbed Sager and pinned him to the floor before he seriously hurt the clerk, Bunker said. That’s where police found him when they arrived.
“The victim and the community owe these three citizens a debt of gratitude for assisting the clerk,” said police Chief Chris Jenkins. “They are to be commended for risking personal injury to help someone who could have faced serious injury if the assault had continued.”
Bunker said Sager was so unruly and uncooperative after his arrest that a mug shot was not available.