Police: Would-be shoplifter bit chunk out of store clerk’s face, left him ‘bleeding profusely’

TAUNTON, MASS. (WHDH) - A 19-year-old man is facing maiming and mayhem charges after police say he attacked and bit a chunk out of a gas station clerk’s face who tried to stop him from stealing a drink out of a beverage cooler late Monday night.

Joel Davila, of Taunton, was arraigned Tuesday in Taunton District Court on charges including assault with intent to maim and mayhem.

Officers responding to a report of a patron that bit the face of a store clerk at the Sunoco on Broadway around 11:25 p.m. found a 55-year-old victim bleeding profusely with a serious gash below his left eye, according to the Taunton Police Department.

The victim was taken to a Boston hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

In reviewing surveillance footage from the store, police say officers determined that the store clerk tried to prevent Davila from stealing a bottled drink from the beverage cooler. When the store clerk put his arm across the cooler door to prevent Davila from opening it, the suspect allegedly bit the inside of the victim’s elbow and face during a struggle.

Davila smiled proudly and blew a kiss to family members as prosecutor Kristen Sylvia recounted the gruesome details from inside the bloodstained gas station.

“Officers did see a missing piece of flesh off the store clerk’s eye. They asked the defendant if he knew a significant amount of flesh was missing,” Sylvia told the court. “The defendant said, ‘I think I ate it. You can look in my stomach and check.’”

As the clerk screamed in pain, police say Davila sat down next to a pool of blood and started rubbing his fingers in it as if he was fingerpainting.

After Davila’s arraignment, his grandmother said she felt bad for the gas station clerk and apologized for her grandson’s alleged actions.

Davila was known to the clerk and had allegedly stolen from the store in the past, according to police.

A witness at the store called 911 and tended to the victim while another witness prevented Davila from leaving the store.

Police say officers found Davila with blood on his face, sitting with his legs crossed and hands behind his back when they arrived at the scene.

Davila was taken into custody and brought to an area hospital to undergo an overnight evaluation. Upon his release from the hospital Tuesday morning, police say he was arrested.

A doctor told the court that Davila suffers from schizophrenia and substance abuse issues.

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