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Store 24 Worker Changed in Attack

Police Identify Both Victims in stabbing

By Karen M. Paik

An employee of the Store 24 in Harvard Square was arrested for allegedly attacking two people outside the store on Saturday night.

Russell T. Yeager, 34, a Somerville resident, allegedly stabbed one man in the neck and reportedly slashed a woman on the hand when she tried to intervene.

Yeager was charged with attempted murder as well as assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. As of yesterday afternoon, he was still in the custody of Cambridge Police, pending $25,000 bail.

In an interview with The Crimson yesterday, Cambridge Police spokesperson Frank Pasquarello identified the victims as Robert Gayner and Shana Dirke.

No other information about the victims was available at press time.

Gayner was rushed to Beth Israel Hospital for emergency surgery and is currently in stable condition. Drike was treated for her wound at Mount Auburn Hospital, police said.

The Associated Press reported yesterday that Drike has been released.

Although yesterday afternoon police were still unsure what provoked the incident, Pasquarello said that it began with a confrontation in the store.

"There was some kind of disturbance inside the Store 24 which spilled out onto the street, and allegedly the suspect pulled a knife and slashed the other man on the neck area," he said.

Pasquarello also said that Yeager apparently had the knife on his person.

Police arrived at the scene at approximately 10 p.m., by which time a sizable crowd had begun to gather.

A Harvard graduate student told the Crimson last night that he was walking up Mass. Ave. at around 9:55 p.m. on Saturday.

"As I was passing by the entrance to the Coop I heard someone screaming 'get an ambulance,'" he said.

The student said that as he continued walking up Mass Ave. he saw a man sitting on one of the benches.

"He was a big guy, a tall guy. He was bleeding from his mouth and also from his neck," he said. "He looked almost puzzled... like he didn't know what hit him."

The student said that as he walked past the injured man, he saw a clerk standing in the entrance to Store 24.

The student remembered the clerk from previous visits and described him as "in his late 30s or 40s... [with a] ponytail, about 5'10", thinnish."

The student said he believed the clerk was a recent hire. "I've gone to Store 24 frequently over the last 2 years, and I've only seen him there recently," he said.

"He was holding a knife. It was quite a small knife; I would say the whole knife itself was only about five inches, and the blade looked about two inches."

He said the clerk did not seem agitated. "He was definitely not brandishing [the knife] by his head or anything," the student said. "He was standing in the entrance of the store, almost as if he were guarding it."

"I heard some people around the guy kind of pleading with him to put the knife down. It seemed like they knew him," he said.

According to the student, the man with the knife was then approached by a police officer. "They had some words; there was a moment of hesitation, maybe three or four seconds...and then I saw him turn around and be handcuffed."

The student said there were no police cars around when he first walked onto the scene, but police cars and an ambulance began to arrive as he walked away.

"By the time I left, people were beginning to crowd," he said.

Another student, a junior at Northwestern University, was in town visiting a friend, and said she walked through the crime scene. "There was a fair amount of blood on the ground, and I stepped in it. It was between C'est Bon and Store 24;" she said.

"When you looked down you realized you were in the middle of a crime scene because you had blood on your shoes," she said.

The graduate student characterized the atmosphere as one of "confused interest--no one really knew what had happened. I think it all happened too fast."

The manager of Store 24 declined to comment yesterday afternoon

The student remembered the clerk from previous visits and described him as "in his late 30s or 40s... [with a] ponytail, about 5'10", thinnish."

The student said he believed the clerk was a recent hire. "I've gone to Store 24 frequently over the last 2 years, and I've only seen him there recently," he said.

"He was holding a knife. It was quite a small knife; I would say the whole knife itself was only about five inches, and the blade looked about two inches."

He said the clerk did not seem agitated. "He was definitely not brandishing [the knife] by his head or anything," the student said. "He was standing in the entrance of the store, almost as if he were guarding it."

"I heard some people around the guy kind of pleading with him to put the knife down. It seemed like they knew him," he said.

According to the student, the man with the knife was then approached by a police officer. "They had some words; there was a moment of hesitation, maybe three or four seconds...and then I saw him turn around and be handcuffed."

The student said there were no police cars around when he first walked onto the scene, but police cars and an ambulance began to arrive as he walked away.

"By the time I left, people were beginning to crowd," he said.

Another student, a junior at Northwestern University, was in town visiting a friend, and said she walked through the crime scene. "There was a fair amount of blood on the ground, and I stepped in it. It was between C'est Bon and Store 24;" she said.

"When you looked down you realized you were in the middle of a crime scene because you had blood on your shoes," she said.

The graduate student characterized the atmosphere as one of "confused interest--no one really knew what had happened. I think it all happened too fast."

The manager of Store 24 declined to comment yesterday afternoon

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