Police: Man attacked El Cajon jewelry store owner with hatchet, then stole his gun

Images of suspect captured on surveillance video

EL CAJON, Calif. - Police say a man whose credit card was denied at an El Cajon jewelry store Wednesday afternoon became enraged, pulled out a hatchet and beat the owner of the shop with the blunt end of the tool and then stole a gun from him before fleeing.

The assault and robbery occurred shortly before 3:30 p.m. at Hamlin Jewelers in the 2200 block of Fletcher Parkway. When officers arrived on scene, they found the owner suffering from numerous head wounds.

The owner told officers that a credit card transaction had been taking place between him and the suspect, when the credit transaction was denied.

Police say the suspect became angry and pulled out a hatchet that had a hammer head on one end and then hit the owner in the head numerous times with the hammer side.

The victim fell behind the counter and pulled out a small caliber handgun and then pointed it at the suspect, according to police.

A second struggle ensued. The suspect was able to take the gun from the victim and then ran out of the store, police said.

Surveillance video obtained by 10News shows the suspect running away from the jewelry store and through the parking lot of La Mesa Auto and Tire Center. Close behind him was a witness who was trying to catch him.

Employees of the auto shop quickly became aware of what was happening and ran after him as well, but their chase was cut short. They tell 10News the man jumped into the passenger seat of a waiting SUV.

"He came out … we were hanging out over here and all of a sudden the guy goes bolting through the parking lot, and he was kind of looking back a little bit and it was odd," said witness Nick Angwin. "Next thing you know, there's a guy – a chiropractor – comes running after him. He was saying, 'Call the cops, he beat up the jeweler.'"

The victim was taken to a local hospital to be treated. He is listed in good condition and may be released later Wednesday evening.

The suspect is described as a white or Hispanic male in his 20s with a slight beard. He is described as having a thin build and wearing a black shirt and dark pants.

He was last seen getting into a tan-colored Toyota 4-Runner, with a possible partial license plate of #4XU245 and driving away west on Fletcher Parkway.

The handgun appeared to have been the only item stolen during the crime, police said.

The suspect should be considered armed and dangerous. Anyone seeing a vehicle or a person matching the description is encouraged to call 911, and anyone with any information is also encouraged to call the El Cajon Police Department at (619) 579-3311.

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