Off-duty officer stabbed at store

ATHENS, Ga. --- An off-duty Athens-Clarke County police officer was stabbed repeatedly Tuesday night while working as a security guard in a Kroger store.

Sgt. Courtney Gale was in critical condition Wednesday morning at St. Mary's Hospital with several stab wounds and a number of defensive wounds, Athens-Clarke County police said.

Sgt. Gale, 31, was working a side job when someone told her a man was opening packages of meat in the store, and when she approached the man he "wantonly and viciously" attacked her with a knife that police said was stolen from the store.

A nurse who was shopping at the Alps Road Kroger possibly saved Sgt. Gale's life, police said.

"That, and the fact she was so close to the hospital," Athens-Clarke County police Maj. Carter Green said.

A group of people in the store broke up the attack, and some of the people chased the assailant when he ran from the store, then helped officers arrest him by keeping them informed of his whereabouts, police said.

Steven Anthony Eberhart, 44, of Parkview Homes, was charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault and felony obstruction of a law enforcement officer.

Sgt. Gale, a supervisor with the Athens-Clarke County police robbery/homicide squad, has served on the police force since 1998.