ESTACADA, Ore. -- The grocery store employee stabbed in Estacada on Sunday is a longtime employee of the store, beloved by people in the small Oregon town for his easy smile and cheery demeanor.

Ernie Roberts, the interim police chief in nearby Sandy, said Michael Wagner should make a full recovery.

Edith Karlin, who is a friend of Wagner, said he's recovering from several stab wounds.

"He had to go through surgery yesterday," said Karlin. "He's happy, he's happy even though he was stabbed so many times, you know, here he is, a real trooper."

Many people stopped by in a steady stream Monday to drop off balloons and sign a giant get-well poster for Wagner, known by most in the town simply as "Mike," in front of Estacada Thriftway Harvest Market.

"He's a wonderful man, he greets you, he's happy, always happy to see you," said Karlin.

Background: Man carrying human head stabs Estacada store worker; linked to nearby homicide

The suspect in the stabbing, 36-year-old Joshua Lee Webb, has been charged with murder and attempted murder. Before walking into the store Sunday, he is charged with murdering his mother, 59-year-old Tina Marie Webb, at their home in Colton.

Joshua Lee Webb (photo: Clackamas County Sheriff's Office)
Joshua Lee Webb (photo: Clackamas County Sheriff's Office)

The grocery store sits at the center of a tiny downtown in Estacada, across from a pharmacy and next to a diner that buzzed with news of the crime during the lunch rush on Monday. A small collection of candles also grew on the other side of the parking lot, just in front of yellow police tape that covered nearly an entire block.

Estacada is about 30 miles southeast of Portland.

“As soon as we learned it was Mike, it puts a knot in your stomach when it’s somebody you know like that and especially when it’s somebody as nice as Mike,” said Marvin Flora, the owner of Lew’s Drive-In, who made the big get-well card and dropped off flowers and balloons in front of the store Monday.

From the scene: The gruesome scene starts to unfold

Inside Lew's Drive-In, customers talked of nothing but the stabbing and of Wagner, whom everyone seemed to know.

Customers who'd been in the grocery store during the stabbing took refuge in the diner Sunday, but nobody had seen much, said Flora.

"It was traumatic, but it happened so fast that nobody really saw what was going on," he said. "One lady came in this morning and said she actually saw somebody come in with something that was bloody and was carrying something with his arm." But she couldn't see what it was, Flora said.

As residents swapped stories, Flora stood by a growing cluster of balloons and shouted out details of Wagner's condition to drivers who slowed along the main street to check in.

"He's super nice and outgoing. He's the epitome of what this place stands for," Flora said. "He always has jokes for you in the line, and he goes out of the way to know your name."

The gruesome and bizarre chain of events began Sunday afternoon when Webb entered the Thriftway grocery store covered in blood and armed with "what looked like a large kitchen type of knife," Roberts said.

He was also carrying his mother's severed head, police said.

Webb stabbed the store employee before he was subdued by other workers at the store. He was in a "catatonic state" after he was subdued. He had no physical injuries and was taken to a Portland hospital for evaluation because he wasn't speaking.

"He didn't say anything after he was subdued," Roberts said, adding that at one point before he was arrested the man told someone he was thirsty. "He was in like a catatonic state, wasn't speaking to anybody. That's why he was transported to the hospital."

Joshua Webb is expected to survive.