Shiprock man accused of lunging at Salvation Army employee with knife

The defendant allegedly fled the scene before police arrived

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • Melford Russell, 49, is accused of assaulting an employee of the Salvation Army thrift store at 316 W. Animas St. around 1:22 p.m. on April 26, according to court documents.
  • The defendant faces a fourth-degree felony count of aggravated assault.
  • The defendant’s preliminary hearing is set for the morning of May 12 in Farmington Magistrate Court.

FARMINGTON — A Shiprock man is accused of lunging at a Farmington Salvation Army employee with a knife after trying to get a snack from the nonprofit organization.

Melford Russell, 49, is accused of assaulting an employee of the Salvation Army thrift store at 316 W. Animas St. around 1:22 p.m. on April 26, according to court documents.

He faces a fourth-degree felony count of aggravated assault and did not have legal representation on the morning of May 5.

The Farmington Police Department was dispatched to the thrift store on reports of an armed subject.

A woman working at the store told police she was working when Russell entered the building and requested assistance, according to court documents. He was told he would have to go to an office in the church to receive assistance.

Russell then requested a snack pack from the employee, who told him he would have to go to the alley behind the business to get a snack, according to court documents. The woman said Russell got mad, pulled a knife out of his pants pocket, and threatened her with it.

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The defendant allegedly said, “I will cut you, I was in the Army,” to the woman as he lunged at her with the knife, according to court documents. After being told to leave and that the woman would call law enforcement, Russell left the scene.

He was not located by police when they arrived on scene.

A volunteer at the thrift store allegedly witnessed the incident but had left for the day by the time police arrived. The woman said she would provide video footage of the incident to law enforcement when she got access to the system.

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Russell was booked around 7 p.m. on April 26 into the San Juan County Adult Detention Center.

He was released around noon on April 27.

Russell's preliminary hearing is set for the morning of May 12 in Farmington Magistrate Court.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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