Customer, officers help save store manager who collapsed after confronting suspected shoplifter

KENT, Wash. — A store manager credits one his customers and two Kent police officers with saving his life after he went into cardiac arrest following a confrontation earlier this month with a suspected shoplifter that was caught on camera.

"It is the highest  level of humanity,” said Devinder Pal Singh, who is now recovering at home following surgery.

Surveillance video from a 7-Eleven on Kent-Kangley Road shows a 22-year-old man, who Kent police called a “prolific” shoplifter, inside the store around 5:30 a.m.

Employees said the man had previously stolen from the store several times.

Singh, a manager, was called into the store by a clerk and stood between the suspected shoplifter and the door. The clerk then comes up and grabs the man from behind in an attempt to hold him until police arrived.

The clerk and suspected shoplifter tussle, knocking over display cases. The man is able to break free and leave the store.

Singh, still on the phone, then collapsed and went into cardiac arrest. Surveillance video shows a woman who begins performing CPR on him.

"It’s just as intense as if he were the victim of a gunshot wound,” said Kent police officer Jeremiah Johnson, who got the call while driving into work.

Surveillance video shows officer Johnson rush into the 7-Eleven with an AED, followed by Kent police officer Doug Westcott, who both take over CPR from the customer.

Singh, at this point, hasn’t had a heartbeat in several minutes. The officers deliver a shock through the AED and continue CPR.

"It might as well be 30 minutes,” said Johnson.

Singh’s pulse returned as firefighters arrive.

Officer Johnson said he arrested the 22-year-old Monday for an unrelated criminal trespass.

"I have his date of birth memorized,” said Johnson, who told us the suspected shoplifter is well known to Kent police.

KIRO 7 sat down with Singh at his home as he recovered from surgery.

"I don't know what happened to me,” said Singh, who told us he blacked out while on the phone with 911.

He does, however, remember the officers’ words when his heart started beating again.

“‘You (were) gone but now you are back,’” said Singh.

Singh said doctors found a blockage in his heart. His family described doctors as being shocked that he survived.

Singh said he and his family recently invited the woman seen in the surveillance video, who is a regular customer at the store, over to their home to thank her in person for helping save his life.

"They are basically real heroes," said his son-in-law Rajbir Singh, who offered his gratitude to officer Johnson Monday.

"It's the little moments that make it all worth it,” said Johnson.

Kent police say the suspected shoplifter, who they believe is homeless, has been captured on video stealing from other stores and will likely be cited for theft.

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