by: Richard Elliot Updated:
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Pine Lake police are searching for a shoplifter who critically injured a liquor store owner as the thief tried to get away with a bottle of vodka.
"Very disheartening," said longtime customer Lauren Okula. "Very, very sad that someone could have to die over wanting to steal liquor."
Friends identified the owner of the American Package Store on Rockbridge as Mesanft Abraham.
Police said last Thursday afternoon, a man tried to steal a bottle of vodka from Abraham's store. As Abraham confronted the man, police said Abraham's wife automatically locked the front
door, trapping the thief inside.
According to Pine Lake Police Chief Sarai Y-Huda-Green, the thief punched Abraham in the head, causing him to collapse. Abraham's head hit the floor, and police believe that caused massive brain damage. They said Abraham remains in ICU on life support at Grady Hospital.
"His family says he's not doing too well," said business neighbor Spencer Watson. "I want the person caught and prosecuted. I want him caught badly."
The thief kicked out the glass front door and got away, leaving behind a trail of glass.
Police said Abraham's security camera caught the entire crime on video, and they spent Wednesday working with DeKalb police to extract that video from the system.
Friends and neighbors are shocked by the news of what happened.
"People are not angry, they're in shock," said customer Anthony Chapman. "They're upset. It makes no sense for someone to try and steal something and hurt someone in the process. I know the economy is bad, but that's no reason to steal or hurt anyone."