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MAITE, Guam — A store clerk is recovering after losing his eye in an attack when he chased three men suspected of shoplifting tuna.

Alfred Sanchez, 32, an employee of San Jose Supermarket, says he was attacked last Friday after chasing after the three men.

He now lays in the hospital with gauze over his left eye socket, IV drips and an oxygen mask.

Sanchez said he was stocking the shelves on a busy first of the month, around 3 p.m., when he was alerted to the possible theft. A female customer and her two sons told Sanchez that they saw three men taking items from a freezer. Sanchez gave chase to the men, who by then, were walking up Route 8.

When Sanchez caught up, two of the three men — one of whom held a bucket containing packaged tuna cutlets — acted innocent. They told Sanchez to check the third man.

The third man sped up his pace while denying wrongdoing. After several minutes of trying to keep up and asking questions, Sanchez decided to return to the store to call police.

On the way back, Sanchez again crossed paths with the two other men. By that time, their mood had changed.

"Their eye contact was kind of different. It was more like, 'now, what do you want?'"

Sanchez noticed the tuna packages were no longer in the bucket. Feeling they had hidden the items, Sanchez asked for a receipt.

"They said, 'why, you have a problem?'"

Sanchez told the men he intended to call the police.

"That's when they started pushing me. They pushed me like five or six times."

One of the men, a short man who looked to be in his 40s with a blind left eye, started to swing the bucket at him, he said. The other man, a taller man in his 30s, just watched.

Finally, Sanchez said, he pushed back.

"That's when the (short) guy…took the umbrella and said, 'now I'm going to hurt you.'"

Sanchez said he turned his face momentarily to check behind him. When he turned back toward the men, the short man jabbed the umbrella in his left eye.

Then they fled.

Sanchez said he knew immediately what had happened.

"My eye was messed up. There was plenty of blood," he said.

"When (the attacker) pulled (the umbrella) out, that's when the blood started gushing out. … I felt it. I felt all that cracking and stuff in the brain."

Several passersby, including a National Guardsman, stopped to assist, he said.

He was taken to Guam Memorial Hospital, where he was told his eye was gone.

Joey Arriola, warehouse manager of San Jose Supermarket, said the store was still trying to fully understand what had happened.

"We are still actually in a state of shock," he said this afternoon.

The attack occurred several hundred feet from the store, beyond the store's security camera range, he said. No store employee witnessed it, he said.

"Whoever … did it, I hope that he or they would be held accountable. It is just outrageous what had happened," he said. "The severity of the injuries… it's inexcusable."

After five days in the hospital, he is stabilized but doctors are keeping him in the hospital, worried about the bone fragments in his brain, Sanchez said.

Initially, his eye was swollen to the size of a golf ball. The swelling has gone down, but the doctors have told him to monitor fluids coming out of his nostrils and eyes. He's been warned not to sneeze, as there are air bubbles in his brain that could burst.

Once discharged, Sanchez will be referred to an eye specialist, he's been told.

"They can't do anything (at GMH) because they don't have the materials," he said.

Sanchez said he sees "flashes in my head" and feels numbness in the left side of his brain.

"I always knew I was going to be a superhero," he joked, referring to Daredevil, a Marvel Comics blind superhero.

"I'm the defender of the San Jose mart," he cracked.

Although he hopes the suspects will be caught to face charges, he has already forgiven them.

"I will forgive, but not forget. That's the gift that were given, right? To forgive."

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