7-Eleven customer shoots, kills hatchet-wielding attacker in White Center

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WHITE CENTER, Wash. -- A customer drinking coffee at a 7-Eleven Sunday morning drew a pistol and shot dead a hatchet-wielding man who went after him and the store clerk, authorities said.

The King County Medical Examiner's Office on Monday identified the suspect as Steven Blacktongue, 43, who had previous assault convictions.

Steven Blacktongue, shot by customer at 7/11 on Sunday, March 13, 2016. Photo courtesy of Washington State Department of Corrections.

Steven Blacktongue, shot by customer at 7/11 on Sunday, March 13, 2016. Photo courtesy of Washington State Department of Corrections.

Investigators said the man was wearing a mask when he entered the store around 5:45 a.m. Sunday, the King County Sheriff's Office said.

"The suspect did not make any statements but swung the hatchet at the customer and then went behind the counter and attacked the clerk," the sheriff's office said.

Then, the customer fired back, according to the sheriff's office. Paramedics tried to resuscitate the suspect, authorities said, but he died at the scene.

The customer, a 60-year-old man, had a concealed pistol license, according to the sheriff's office. He was not injured.

The store's 58-year-old clerk had a minor injury to his stomach from the hatchet attack, the sheriff's office said.

“Fortunately, because of this customer with his weapon, this could have been a lot worse," said King County Sheriff's Sergeant Cindi West.

"The clerk could be the one laying there dead on the floor right now.”

"The customer's a nice guy,” said another worker at the store.  “He’s been coming here for about 12 years.  He buys scratch tickets, in the morning time.  He buys coffee.  He's a good guy.”

The King County Medical Examiner will determine the official cause of death and release the man's identity at a later date.

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