GARDINER — Two unidentified men were taken to area hospitals after their verbal altercation became physical and eventually led to them injuring each other with knives outside the Hannaford grocery store here Thursday afternoon.

“From 3:15 to 3:30 p.m., we started receiving emergency calls from people outside in the Hannaford parking lot about two men fighting each other and using knives,” said Gardiner Police Chief James Toman. “As we responded, we were getting updated information from witnesses that it looked like one was bleeding and had been stabbed.”

Toman and two other officers found both men — both in their late 20s or early 30s — soon after arriving at the store lot off Maine Avenue.

“They were not actively engaged in a fight upon our arrival, but were within 10 to 15 feet of each other and in front of the store, almost standing near the entrance,” Toman said. “It looked like they had both been injured and stabbed.

“One had a lower stomach injury and the other’s was an upper shoulder/arm injury.”

Gardiner Fire and Rescue also went to the scene. After examining both men, paramedics determined that the one with the stomach injury should be taken to Central Maine Medical Center’s trauma center. The other man was taken to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta.

Toman said no arrests have been made and no charges filed but police are still investigating.

“You would think that a knife fight in broad daylight at a shopping center parking results in some charges,” Toman said. “We probably have eight to 10 witnesses we’ve interviewed and we are working with Hannaford to see what surveillance footage they can provide.”

The Hannaford store has cameras that point to the parking lot.

“My guess is we’ll still be wading through evidence and investigating through tomorrow,” Toman said.

Although they are still investigating, Gardiner police are sure of a few things already.

“This was not a random attack. There’s some type of history there,” Toman said. “They knew each other and happened upon each other, and it started with a verbal altercation, then turned physical with fists being thrown, and then elevating to stabbing.

“Right now we don’t know if it’s mutual or self defense.”

Police cordoned off a couple of areas in the parking lot while gathering evidence and eventually cleared the scene at 4:30 p.m.

“We believe the stabbings occurred at a different part of parking lot,” Toman said.

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