‘John Doe’ accused of threatening Centralia grocery store employee with a knife 


Investigators have yet to identify a male suspect accused of pulling a knife on a Centralia Safeway employee who refused to sell him alcohol on Saturday, Lewis County Jail and Superior Court staff confirmed Tuesday afternoon. 

The suspect was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail as “John Doe” just before 9:40 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1.

Officers with the Centralia Police Department were dispatched to the Centralia Safeway, located in the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue, at 8:45 p.m. on Dec. 1 for a report of a disorderly homeless man who allegedly “pulled a knife on a grocery store employee for refusing to sell him alcohol,” according to call logs. 

The store employee reported he was working in the customer service area when he noticed a male subject enter the store and “begin to yell at a female customer,” according to court documents. The employee said he got between the two customers, “who did not appear to know each other, in an effort to de-escalate the situation,” according to court documents. 

According to the employee, the male subject said he wanted to buy alcohol and cigarettes, and the employee said he would sell him cigarettes “but would not sell him alcohol given his actions.” The male subject reportedly gave the employee a $20 bill and the employee went to get change from a till, at which point the subject allegedly “walked toward (the employee), pulled out a pocket knife … and asked ‘are you going to sell it to me?’” 

The blade on the pocket knife was not out when the incident occurred, according to court documents. 

The male subject was still inside the store when officers arrived. He reportedly did not have any identification at the time of his arrest, but did allegedly have “a small amount of what (officers) recognized as controlled substances,” according to court documents. 

Officers noted he “was uncooperative with officers and exhibited signs of mental health issues.” 

The male subject was charged with one count each of second-degree assault and possession of a controlled substance on Monday, Dec. 2. The charges were filed under the name “John Doe,” with the intention that the suspect’s actual name will be added to the case file once the suspect is identified. 

The suspect was scheduled to have a preliminary hearing in Lewis County Superior Court on Monday, Dec. 4, but the hearing was postponed to Tuesday, Dec. 5 after jail staff reported the suspect refused to appear. 

The hearing was again postponed Tuesday after the suspect refused to appear. 

“He’s not complying with anything,” a jail staff member told the court Tuesday. 

The court appointed an attorney for the suspect Tuesday afternoon and postponed the hearing for Thursday, Dec. 7. 

“It appears there are some behavioral health issues here and it may be prudent for the state to obtain an order for a Western State Hospital mental health evaluation,” Judge J. Andrew Toynbee said Thursday. 

It is complicated for the court to order a competency evaluation for an unidentified defendant, according to Deputy Prosecutor Joe Bassetti, as those evaluations typically require information on the defendant’s mental health history. 

The suspect is being held without bail at the Lewis County Jail until further notice.