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Andrew Adams, Deseret News
Police say a suspected thief is in critical condition after getting into an argument outside a hardware store in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 2, 2019.

SALT LAKE CITY — It was unclear Thursday night whether a suspected thief would survive after police say he got into an argument with workers and bystanders outside a hardware store.

About 7 p.m., the man allegedly tried to walk out of Ace Hardware at 612 E. 400 South with items in his pocket that he had not paid for, Salt Lake police said. Two workers followed him out and tried to detain him, according to police.

A struggle between the workers and man ensued, police said, and two witnesses joined in to try to help the workers.

The workers and witnesses got the man onto the ground, police said. By the time police arrived, he was unresponsive. He was taken to a hospital in critical condition.

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Salt Lake police said because officers cuffed the man while assessing the situation, the incident will be treated as an officer-involved critical incident and Unified police will investigate.

It wasn't immediately known if the man's condition was a result of injuries received in the argument or a medical condition.

"It didn't appear he had many injuries on him from the struggle itself so we assumed medical condition or something due to the struggle. But we're not exactly sure what caused him to stop breathing," said Salt Lake Police Lt. Justin Hudson.