Following up on a story we reported yesterday, A West Salem Goodwill loss prevention associate has been released from Salem Hospital after being stabbed multiple times last week while detaining a suspect who tried to steal clothes.
Sean Earle Graham, 49, of Salem, was arraigned over the phone Monday afternoon in Polk County on charges of first-degree assault, two counts of first-degree robbery and unlawful use of a weapon. He is being held in Polk County Jail with bail set at $250,000, court records show.
Salem Police officers were called just before 11 AM on Friday to the Goodwill store at 585 Edgewater Street NW on a report of a fight and someone with a knife.
When officers arrived, bystanders assisted them in detaining Graham. Police said the fight broke out when the store’s loss prevention officer, Matthew Thompson, stopped Graham for allegedly stealing clothes.
According to a probable cause statement, officers said Thompson, 33, suffered life-threatening injuries, including an 8 to 10 inch slash wound on the right side of his neck that exposed muscle and tendons and a stab wound to his upper back. He also had a scratch on the left side of his neck. He was treated and later released from Salem Hospital, according to hospital communication specialist Elijah Penner.
During an interview, Graham reportedly told officers he paid for a shirt at the register but hid multiple items of clothing inside a backpack he was carrying without paying for them.
He said he was leaving the store when someone came up from behind and pulled on his backpack. Graham told police he started fighting with Thompson in an “effort to get away” and only realized Thompson was a security officer when his badge fell off. In a statement, Thompson told police that although he was in “plain clothes,” he showed Graham his badge right away and identified himself as a loss prevention officer.
Graham admitted he continued fighting with Thompson, “even after seeing he was security.” At one point, Thompson was on the ground, facing away from him holding his leg, Graham said.
Graham told officers he took out a fixed blade knife from a sheath in his back pocket. He said he was “planning on showing Thompson the knife in hopes he would let him go and he could flee the store.”
He said he didn’t stab Thompson on purpose, but was trying to “show” him the knife to stop the fight. He didn’t “realize” until a few moments into the fight when he saw blood, “what he had done.”
First-degree robbery and assault are Measure 11 crimes that carry a minimum sentence of seven years and six months each. Graham’s next court hearing is scheduled for August 24.
According to court records, Graham, a convicted felon, had multiple convictions of domestic violence fourth-degree assault in 1999. He also was convicted of aggravated animal abuse in 2008 and first-degree criminal mistreatment in 2003… Salem Statesman Journal