Stranger attacks female shopper with knife at Kmart in Walla Walla

WALLA WALLA - A man with a knife attacked a female shopper at Kmart on Tuesday before he was tackled by a customer and detained by store employees, police say.

Stephen D. Miller, 57, of 1304 Ruth St. was arrested for investigation of second-degree assault after attacking the woman from behind, according to a report from the Walla Walla Police Department.

Dixie Aichele, 51, of Walla Walla had been browsing holiday decorations in the Garden Center at the Isaacs Avenue store around 5:30 p.m. when Miller reportedly grabbed her around the waist and attempted to cover her mouth. She told police she felt something hard against her cheek and near her eye. She screamed and wrestled herself loose before falling to the floor.

As Miller ran, an employee alerted customers to what had happened. A customer reportedly tackled Miller until store security, and then police, arrived.

Aichele was treated for abrasions at the scene by a customer who is also a nurse.

Police Detective Matt Wood said the knife was near where Miller had been detained. He said officers are still trying to determine what happened. Miller, who does not know Aichele, was aware that he had attacked her but told police he didn't know why.