It’s hard to imagine how he thought he could get away with it, but perhaps he was high on methamphetamine at the time was was running on nervous energy. Whatever the case, 39-year-old Michael Leigh Joseph was in the Santa Rosa K-Mart on Cleveland Avenue when he was observed by store employees and loss prevention officers cutting open boxes of merchandise and removing security tags off of merchandise. They say that he was stuffing the items into both a duffle bag and down his pants.
Perhaps concerned that he was armed with a cutting device, the loss prevention team contacted Santa Rosa Police before approaching the suspect. Police arrived at 10:39 Sunday morning, and found him still in the store. according to a police press release, when he was contacted by the officers, Joseph gave them a false name. He was searched and found to have a knife and a plastic bag of meth with him. They placed him under arrest, and tried handcuffing him, but Joseph ran away. An officer tackled him as he fled, and Joseph continued to put up a fight.
As the officers struggled to control him, Joseph bit one of them several times on the hand and arm. He also grabbed on of their firearms in its holster, yanking on it to try to free it and gain control. It took several minutes struggling to get him free of the weapon, and to finally get the cuffs on him.
Once he was subdued and under their control, the officers searched his duffle bag, and were alarmed, and perhaps relieved to find a loaded semi-automatic handgun that he had not pulled out before. A records search of the now identified Michael Joseph revealed that he was a convicted felon and not permitted to carry firearms or ammunition, inside a store or out. He also had an outstanding warrant for violation of probation. Joseph had been arrested at least three times in the past three years for drug and paraphernalia possession offenses.
This time his charges were far more serious, however. After treatment at a local hospital for injuries he sustained in his resistance, he was booked at the Sonoma County jail for resisting arrest with threats or violence, attempting to remove an officer’s firearm, assault on a peace officer with injuries, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was also charged with burglary, possession of methamphetamine, violation of probation, and his outstanding warrant.
Both officers received lacerations on their faces in the struggle, but fortunately the bitten officer did not have his skin broken when Joseph attacked with his teeth. The violent Crime Team detectives took over the further investigation, and are asking any K-Mart shoppers who may have seen the altercation to share their stories with them at 707-543-3590.