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Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Morning News
Police dog JJ, taken in February, 2007.

A man police say stabbed a Smith's Food & Drug store employee was arrested early Tuesday thanks in part to Salt Lake City's K9 bloodhound.

"JJ" and his handler, officer Mike Serio, tracked the suspect for two miles before finding him hiding under a stairway at an apartment complex. Jonathan Kelsey, 23, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of aggravated assault and aggravated robbery.

The incident began Tuesday just after midnight when a man walked into Smith's, 845 E. 4500 South, grabbed some frozen pizzas and started to walk out without paying, said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Lt. Paul Jaroscak.

A 50-year-old employee confronted the man, who proceeded to pull out a hunting knife and stabbed the employee in the side of his chest, Jaroscak said. Merwin Brown was taken to a local hospital in serious but non-life threatening condition, he said.

Although the robber had a truck parked in the Smith's lot, he ran away from the store without his vehicle. Investigators called for their K9s and assistance from Salt Lake City's K9 squad. The sheriff's K9s found the man's jacket and gun that he had dropped.

"JJ," one of Salt Lake's most decorated police K9s of all time, was persistent enough to track the man to 256 E. 3645 S. While "JJ" was tracking the suspect, other Salt Lake County deputies developed information using the man's vehicle registration, cell phone records and known associates to end up at the apartment complex at just about the same time as the bloodhound, Jaroscak said.

Kelsey was taken into custody without further incident.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com