Two loss-prevention guards were stabbed Sunday evening when they tried to apprehend a group of shoplifting suspects outside the Boulevard Mall, Amherst police reported.

The two male guards’ wounds were not believed to be life-threatening, police said, but one of the victims suffered a 3-inch gash to his neck. The other guard was stabbed in his side.

Police Lt. Brian Miller said the stabbings took place at about 5:30 p.m., after an alleged shoplifting incident at a clothing store in the mall.

“I’ve worked here for 12 years, and nothing like this has ever happened here before,” Brian Calvert, the mall’s general manager, told The Buffalo News. He said it was “highly unusual” for shoplifting suspects to become violent and use weapons against security guards.

The injured guards were not mall employees but worked as loss-prevention specialists at one of the stores, Calvert said.

According to police, the two guards went outside the mall to pursue two women and a man whom they suspected of shoplifting from the Abercrombie & Fitch clothing store.

When the guards confronted the group, the male suspect pulled out a knife and attacked both guards, police said.

The guards retreated to the mall, and the three suspects drove away, police said.

Amherst police asked police in Erie and Niagara counties to help search for the suspects, and police quickly traced the getaway car – a Nissan Versa – to a Town of Tonawanda motel, less than a mile from the mall.

At the motel, police found and impounded the car but could not find the suspects. Shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday, a News reporter observed police officers knocking on motel room doors and shining flashlights into rooms at the motel, searching for the suspects. Town of Tonawanda police were assisting in the efforts.

Authorities did not release the names of the injured guards or details about their injuries, except to say the injuries were not life-threatening. Both men were initially taken to Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst, but one was later transferred to Erie County Medical Center.

The men were stabbed outside a main entrance to the mall, on the Niagara Falls Boulevard side. The News talked to employees and customers of two restaurants, both of which are close to the stabbing scene.

All the observers described a chaotic scene with numerous police cars and ambulances, with one man being taken away on a stretcher. One witness said a victim’s blood was smeared on a doorway to the mall.

The mall’s general manager, Calvert, told The News the stabbing was an “isolated incident” and said there was “no danger to the general public inside the mall.”