Woman ID'd in Fatal Super One Stabbing, Employees Lauded as Heroes

Heidi Enninga
December 12, 2014 10:38 PM

One woman is dead after she was fatally stabbed just before 8 p.m. Thursday at the Super One Foods at 5300 Bristol St., Duluth Police Department Deputy Chief Mike Tusken said.

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Miner's Inc., the parent company of Super One Foods, released a statement on Friday identifying the victim as Sally Pionk. 

"Words cannot express how profoundly saddened we are that Ms. Pionk lost her life through what appears to be a random act of unprovoked violence while innocently shopping at our store," the statement reads. 

Police says Pionk was a 75-year-old Proctor resident. A 35-year-old suspect was booked on second-degree murder charges at the St. Louis County Jail. Mark Rubin, the St. Louis County prosecutor, said he expects to file formal charges on Monday. 

Police believe the crime was committed at random. 

Police say the suspect walked into the grocery store with a kitchen knife and stabbed Pionk. He then attempted to attack an employee before he was tackled and subdued by three other employees. 

Eyewitnesses said they were shopping in the store when they heard a scream come from near the bakery. 

"The cops were asking and stuff, and then we found out the lady got stabbed in the neck," Matthew Hansen told Eyewitness News. 

"We (saw) the person go in, but we didn't see him come out. We walked out, and he came out right behind us, we heard a lady screaming before we took off, and there was a huge commotion, apparently someone was trying to stab an employee while trying to stop the person," Kevin Potter told Eyewitness News. 

In a statement, Miner's Inc. expressed pride in their employees who detained suspect until police arrived. 

"Their immediate and decisive action in subduing and restraining the perpetrator clearly prevented an awful situation from becoming worse. We also want to express our appreciation to those store customers and employees that came to Ms. Pionk’s aide following this brutal attack."

"When the assault began, the staff intervened and although their intervention did not save the life of Miss Pionk, it very well may have saved the lives of many others in the store," Tusken said. 

Police also said that two nurses who were shopping at the store rushed to provide medical care to the victim who was eventually pronounced dead on the scene. 

Customers and about 25 employees were in the store at the time of the incident. 

"The impact of this event on those employees was significant. lot of scared faces, a lot of people that were in shock," Tusken said.

The incident put folks on high alert, wondering about their own safety. Police described the Super One as an "epicenter" of the neighborhood. 

"This incident is particularly difficult because it steals our sense of security," Tusken said.

While Thursday's incident was random, police said crime statistics from Duluth show this kind of random, violent act is rare. 

"This crime that happened at super one is an anomaly, it's just not what we see," Tusken said. 

Furthermore, the suspect has a history of service calls with the police for abnormal behavior, which police believe may have played a role. 

"He has had some incidents of abhorrent behavior that could be construed by many to be outside of the social norms, and so I think the final analysis will show I think there was a correlation between mental illness and this crime," Tusken said.

Click here to read the full statement from Miner's Inc. 

Police said the investigation is ongoing.


Heidi Enninga

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