By Pat Reavy
Deseret Morning News
A man who had just been released from jail was sent right back Monday after police say he picked the wrong store to attempt a robbery.
The 30-year-old man was in line at a 7-Eleven, 2175 E. 9400 South, just before 8 p.m. When he got to the counter he asked the female clerk for a carton of cigarettes, said Sandy Police Sgt. Victor Quezada. But after he received them he walked out without paying, Quezada said.
The clerk told another female clerk who followed him outside the doors and told him to stop.
Instead, the man turned around and punched the clerk in the face, Quezada said.
James Sjostrom was standing in line right behind the man who took the cigarettes and saw the entire thing unfold.
"He just turned and clocked her," Sjostrom said. "He pounded her face. It was pretty vicious."
That's when Sjostrom went after the man who assaulted the store clerk.
As he went outside, Sjostrom said he saw the man standing over the clerk, who was kneeling over on the ground, as if he were going to punch her again. When the man saw Sjostrom coming at him, he took a swing at him, too.
But the attacker quickly found out he was no match for the bulky Sjostrom.
Sjostrom is a former Marine who taught hand-to-hand combat and currently teaches a course on Russian kettlebells, or the martial art of strength training, at the Sports Mall in Murray.
"I grabbed him, threw him on the ground, put his hands behind his back, sat on him and waited for the cops to come," Sjostrom said.
In just a matter of a few seconds Sjostrom had the man pinned. When the man realized he had no chance, Sjostrom said he became "pretty quiet."
"Anybody would have done the same thing," he said. "Another guy in the store said he was in the Army and asked if I needed any help."
With a grin, Sjostrom replied to the man, "The Marines got here first."
The would-be thief refused to tell police who he was. They figured it out, however, when they found his release papers from the Salt Lake County Jail still in his pocket. The man had been released from jail on another assault arrest just hours earlier, Quezada said.
Although police don't normally encourage people to go after bad guys themselves, in this case, "The guy did something that was great," he said.
The female clerk who was punched suffered a cut above her eyebrow. She was treated at the scene by paramedics and released.