BALLWIN, Mo. (KMOV.com) – A suspect is in custody in connection to an assault and robbery at a West County store.
Less than a week after police released surveillance images of the suspect, a woman was taken into custody. The St. Louis County Police Department identified the suspect as Debbie Penn, of St. Louis.
Neighbors in the Creve Coeur neighborhood where Penn lives told News 4 they noticed police officers in front of her home Monday afternoon.
The 31-year-old was charged with first-degree robbery, armed criminal action, stealing – physically taking, and fourth-degree assault. She is being held on a $250,000 cash-only bond.
Penn's boyfriend told News 4 she’s been crying every day since this incident. He wouldn't elaborate on the accusations facing Penn but said she isn’t a horrible person. He said they’ve hired an attorney and plan to fight the charges.
On Sept. 25, Penn entered the Menards at 14161 Manchester Road before 8 p.m. with five children, according to authorities. Police said the group walked throughout the store and loaded a shopping cart full of goods. One of the kids then allegedly pushed the shopping cart out of the store and towards a white vehicle in the parking lot without paying.
Employees and a citizen tried contacting Penn in the parking lot following the apparent theft. Penn saw a citizen take a photo of her vehicle, and assaulted him and took his cell phone, according to police.
The St. Louis County Police Department said Penn then got into her vehicle and drove towards Michelle Arthur, a Menards employee who was in the parking lot, striking her. Penn then drove from the area.
When officers arrived at the scene, Arthur, 49, was taken to the hospital for life-saving treatment. She reportedly suffered a head injury. As of Thursday morning, police said she was in critical, but stable condition at the hospital.
Tuesday Arthur's husband Joe released a brief statement, confirming she remains in critical condition and thanking the community for their support.
“We are overwhelmed with the support we have received,” he said. “I have been comforted by the love of our family, my fellow firefighters, and complete strangers. It truly means a lot.”
A witness identified Penn as the woman seen in the surveillance images, St. Louis County police said.
Penn has an extensive criminal history, with 15 charges against her between 2002 and 2012. The charges range from forgery, stealing, check fraud and theft, to assault on a law enforcement officer. She was convicted four times.
The St. Louis County Police Department said some of the kids with Penn during the incident weren't hers. The kids are now with family members.
Penn's bail for the Menards incident was set at $250,000.
Menards released the following statement:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with our injured employee and her family at this time. Because this is a police matter, we are unable to comment further, but we can tell you that the safety of our employees and customers is ALWAYS our first priority.”