Grocery-store employees in Burien tackled a man who apparently attacked an 11-year-old boy in the store's restroom. The workers held the suspect until police arrived.

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Employees in a Burien grocery store tackled a man suspected of assaulting an 11-year-old boy Saturday afternoon, and held the suspect until police arrived.

“The employees acted very quickly and did the right thing,” said King County Sheriff Steve Strachan. “They stopped what could have been every parent’s nightmare.”

The incident occurred shortly after noon in the Albertson’s store at Southwest 128th Street and First Avenue South, where the boy and his family were shopping. The family lives nearby and shops at the store regularly.

The boy went to use the restroom while his family waited for him at the store entrance, Strachan said. The suspect allegedly followed the boy into the restroom and grabbed him by the neck, choking the youngster and leaving welts. As the boy struggled, the man pulled him into a stall and tried to remove his pants, Strachan said.

“The boy was struggling and the stall doors are slamming open and shut,” Strachan said. “Only the two of them were in there.”

Employees heard the ruckus and came to investigate.

The boy had broken away from his assailant and was trying to squeeze through the restroom door. The suspect was slamming the door shut on the boy’s hands, Strachan said.

The employees pushed the door open. As the boy ran toward his parents, the man bolted for the exit, his pants still partially down.

He didn’t get far.

“The employees, male and female alike, just acted very quickly and hog-piled him,” Strachan said.

The man fought, and bit one of the workers, though not hard enough to break the skin. Strachan said several syringes fell out of the suspect’s pockets during the tussle.

People in the store called 911 and Burien Police and King County sheriff’s deputies arrived quickly. Strachan, who lives nearby, also rushed to the scene.

The 32-year-old man, who told police he is homeless, was taken into custody. The case is still under investigation.

“It’s a pretty brazen thing to do, in the middle of the day in a grocery store,” Strachan said.

Sandi Doughton: 206-464-2491 or sdoughton@seattletimes.com