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Homeless man held on $500k cash after standoff in Middleton Thursday

Union Leader Correspondent

February 01. 2013 6:06PM

Richard Penney (Courtesy photo)

ROCHESTER – A homeless man who allegedly stole an AK-47 from his brother, kidnapped a nearby woman and held off police for three hours in Middleton on Thursday will be held on $500,000 cash bail.

Richard Penney, 35, who previously lived in Middleton, was charged with five felonies – including robbery, two counts of theft by unauthorized taking, kidnapping and criminal threatening with a deadly weapon - following the incident which occurred along Lakeshore Drive.

After a three-hour standoff, Penney let the woman go unharmed before surrendering to police. He was held overnight in Strafford County Jail in Dover.

During a video arraignment Friday, Judge Daniel Cappiello entered no plea for the felony charges and agreed to set bail at $500,000 cash bail, based on the recommendations of Assistant County Attorney Matt Zahn.

"We all deserve to be safe in our homes," Zahn said.

After walking to his brother's home on Elaine Drive in Middleton, Penney allegedly took a .32 caliber Berretta pistol and a .22 caliber derringer Model DM-22. He then threatened to allegedly "blow his brains out" with the loaded Berretta if his brother – Robert – did not hand over an AK-47 rifle, according to court records.

After Penney left, his brother called police around 2:10 p.m. to report that Penney had allegedly taken the weapons and multiple loaded magazines.

Penney then walked to 82 Lakeshore Drive and allegedly forced his way inside the home by threatening a woman – Heather Ducharme – with the loaded AK-47. He then held Ducharme in her home while holding police at bay outside, according to court records.

Zahn said while Penney has no criminal record, his alleged actions were a threat to all, including himself.

"The nature of these charges is – in a word – terrifying," Zahn said, adding before Penney allegedly loaded and had rounds chambered in all of the weapons during the incident.

Middleton Police Chief Randy Sobel previously said investigators are determining whether Penney and the woman had any sort of relationship before the incident.

"At times he (Penney) would tell Ducharme that he did not want to hurt her and at other times he stated that he was going to kill them both," according to the affidavit.

Middleton police responded and quickly called for mutual aid to help secure the area.

As a result, members of Farmington, Milton, New Durham and Wolfeboro police, deputies from the Strafford County Sheriff's Department and State Police – including members of the Major Crime Unit and the Tactical Unit – all responded to the scene.

Additionally, police notified school officials in Farmington – where Middleton students attend classes. As a result, the schools were put in a "soft lock down" as a precaution. Students were returned home following the incident, according to Sobel.

On Thursday, N.H. State Police Col. Robert Quinn praised the efforts of police who helped secure the scene, safeguard the community and begin negotiations. He added this gave State Police time to respond and help resolve the issue without incident.

If Penney is able to make bail, Cappiello ordered that he would have to undergo a mental health evaluation, possess no dangerous weapons, avoid alcohol or drugs, sign an extradition agreement, be monitored by Strafford County Community Corrections Program and have no contact with his brother and the woman.

Because there are felony charges, Penney is scheduled to appear for a probable cause hearing Feb. 11 at 1 p.m. in 7th Circuit Court in Rochester.

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