Attempted robbery
The Shell station clerk received serious injuries to the head during the attack in Middletown. Photo credit: OnScene.TV

A masked man armed with a gun assaulted a clerk while robbing a Middletown-area gas station early Monday, authorities reported.

The thief approached the employee at the Shell station in the 3500 block of India Street and asked for cigarettes shortly before 3:30 a.m., according to the San Diego Police Department.

When the victim opened the cash register, the bandit pulled a handgun and demanded the currency drawer, SDPD Officer Sarah Foster said.

“The clerk, believing the gun was not real, resisted and fought with the (robber),” Foster said.

After hitting the employee on the head several times, the thief fled with only the cigarettes, according to OnScene.TV.

The suspect was described as a man who appeared to be in his mid-20s, wearing a face mask, dark pants and a gray hooded sweatshirt.

City News Service contributed to this article.