ST. LOUIS COUNTY — A woman who police say shoplifted from a Menards home-improvement store and ran over an employee with her car last week is in police custody.
Prosecutors on Tuesday charged Debbie Regina Penn, 31, of west St. Louis County, with one count each of first-degree robbery, armed criminal action, stealing and fourth-degree assault. Penn was being held with her bail set at $250,000.
The attack happened about 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Menards at 14161 Manchester Road, which is near Ballwin but in unincorporated St. Louis County.
Penn, of the 11300 block of Momarte Lane, was with five children when she was seen leaving the store with a cart full of shoplifted items, police said. A man who was shopping there approached Penn as she got into her car, police said.
Penn saw the man take a photograph of her vehicle; she confronted him, grabbing the phone from his hand and scratching his face, police said.
A Menards worker, Michelle Arthur, 49, stood in front of Penn’s car to prevent her from leaving the parking lot, police said. Penn got into her car and “drove straight into” Arthur.
Arthur landed on top of the car and Penn drove away quickly, throwing Arthur off the vehicle, police said. Arthur was hospitalized with a head injury. She remained in critical condition at a hospital Tuesday, according to a written statement from her husband, Metro West Fire Protection District firefighter Joe Arthur . He extended “a heartfelt thank you to the St. Louis County Police Department for their tireless efforts in this matter.”
“We are overwhelmed with the support we have received,” Arthur said. “I have been comforted by the love of our family, my fellow firefighters, and complete strangers. It truly means a lot.”
Penn is the mother of some of the children seen with her at Menards, police said. Her children were in the custody of relatives Tuesday. Police did not release more details.
Penn has a “lengthy criminal history for stealing,” according to charging documents.
She has pleaded guilty in St. Louis, St. Charles and St. Clair counties to charges including felony theft, attempted theft, forgery and assaulting a law enforcement officer in the third-degree, according to online court records.