SAN FRANCISCO - A San Francisco store clerk is fighting for his life after being beaten by a thief, his family says.
His family says they are in shock as their loved one tries to recover.
The attack happened last Thursday at a market in the Outer Richmond District on Balboa and 41st avenues. The family says the man who was beaten, Yowhannes Tewelde, is now in a coma.
"I was at home. I get a call from my mom. My dad is in the hospital. I didn't think it was this severe. Here we are," says Meron Tewelde the victim's daughter as she shakes her head.
The family says they want the suspect caught before he harms someone else.
Yowhannes, affectionately known as John, is at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. His family says he suffered a brain injury while trying to stop a theft suspect who attacked him while he was working at a neighborhood market.
His daughter says he's undergone two surgeries but has not regained consciousness.
"It feels like I'm going to see my dad again. I still feel like I'm dreaming," she says.
Her 60-year-old father works as a clerk at Richmond Market. The market owner told KTVU at around 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, the suspect first came into the store and stole water. 10 minutes later, he returned t steal two beers.
The owner says the beating victim took out a bat to try to stop the thief by the front door, but that the suspect knocked Yowhannes down, causing his head to hit the ground. Then the suspect allegedly struck the victim with the bat and fled the scene.
"This is very hard. We feel bad. We're in pain," Yowhannes's wife says through an interpreter. She's speaking in a mix of English and in her native language from Eritrea.
She works as a nursing assistant at SF General and never imagined her husband would be a crime victim with life-threatening injuries.
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The family says Yowhannes became a U.S. citizen just eight months ago. He also underwent heart surgery in March.
"Right after his heart surgery, he didn't wait to go back to work because he wanted to be there. There's something about that community he loves. He loves everyone there," Meron says through tears.
And the community loves him. A neighbor contacted KTVU about what happened to Yowhannes. Others have started a Gofundme to help his family with medical expenses.
The family says doctors plan to run tests on Yowhannes on Tuesday to see if there is any brain activity.
KTVU has reached out to San Francisco Police Department about this incident but have not heard back.