An off-duty police officer is “lucky” to be alive after a suspected shoplifter attacked him with a knife.
The male officer’s neck, face and hand were slashed with the knife during dramatic scenes inside the Leeds city centre branch of HMV on Friday. (Nov 25)
The attack took place within minutes of the store opening for the Black Friday sales and as fans of pop group Busted arrived to collect wristbands for an album signing later that day.
West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Nick Smart said: “The officer yesterday (Nov 25) has done his duty and very nearly paid the ultimate price.”
Staff in the store helped to detain a suspect – a 36-year-old man from Leeds – who was last night being quizzed by detectives.
Liam Hughes, a Big Issue seller, described the incident as “absolute madness”.
He said: “I started wondering what was going on. But then I’ve seen this fellow come out with the ambulance crew and he gets put in the ambulance.
“I saw then, about five or 10 minutes later, I’ve seen one of the police officers come out with one of those plastic tubes with a penknife in it and I sort of put two and two together and thought ‘someone’s been stabbed here’.”
The officer was taken by ambulance to hospital, where he received stitches for his injuries before being released.
Mr Smart said: “This could quite easily have ended up with the death of officer given where the injures were inflicted.
“He’s a lucky lad, but he’s got the physical injuries and people underestimate the mental side of being assaulted.”
He said support such as that shown by YEP readers, who praised the officer’s bravery and sent best wishes via our Facebook page, made “it all worthwhile” for officers.
The store was closed following the attack just after 9am to allow crime scene investigators to carry out forensic work.
It had reopened by lunchtime, meaning the album signing was able to go ahead.
Contact Leeds District CID via 101, quoting 344 of November 25, with information.