You can find almost anything at this 24-hour Walmart in the Northeast Shopping Plaza, but police say when 17-year old Tyler Vermilyea tried to bum a smoke off of a male employee outside the store just after six o'clock in the morning Tuesday, he came up empty.
That led to an argument, racially-tinged comments and ultimately, when a female co-worker got involved, to violence.
"She intervened and then walked inside the Walmart with the store employee who was being accosted,” said Greg Shipley of the Maryland State Police, “As she was doing that, the suspect walked up beside her and stabbed her."
Troopers later determined that the teen had stabbed the 50-year-old woman with a three-inch knife with a brass knuckle-style handle.
They found him a short distance away in the shopping center where he had punched out the windows of a Dollar General store that hadn't even opened up for business yet.
According to charging documents, the teen smelled of alcohol and other items found on the suspect may shed light on his erratic and aggressive demeanor.
"We don't know what spurred his behavior that morning,” said Shipley, “Actually, they did recover a hypodermic needle from her during the search after his arrest. So there is follow up being done as to what he may have ingested prior to this incident."
Even though the initial verbal dispute included racially derogatory speech, it does not appear that the stabbing constitutes a hate crime.
"The issue here is that there were reported racial slurs made against the individual, but the actual... the store employee... but the actual assault was against this woman that intervened, and the racial issue was not directed at her," said Shipley.
The teen now faces a series of charges including attempted second degree murder, and it appears his victim will recover from her wound.