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Middleton resident Heather Ducharme, who was taken hostage Jan. 31, thanked all the heroes who came to her aid during a three-hour standoff at her home on Lakeshore Drive. (JOHN QUINN PHOTO)

First responders honored for safely ending Middleton standoff

MIDDLETON - For a short time, a homeless man who stole his brother's AK-47 before taking a hostage attracted the focus of the region to a small lakeside community on Jan. 31.

During a brief ceremony Wednesday night, town officials presented 51 awards - including two for valor - recognizing the efforts of all who responded to the town as Richard Penney, 35, who previously lived in Middleton, held authorities at bay outside a Lakeshore Drive home for three hours.

"The town of Middleton extends its deepest gratitude," Selectman Todd Lapierre said.

Penney, who remains in jail, faces five felonies - including robbery, two counts of theft by unauthorized taking, kidnapping and criminal threatening with a deadly weapon - following the incident.

N.H. Attorney General Michael Delaney, who read a letter from Gov. Maggie Hassan, expressed his appreciation about the quick coordination, coolness under pressure and committment to resolve this situation peacefully.

"The events of January 31 could have ended differently and tragically," Delaney read during the ceremony.

Police from around the area, including officers from Farmington, Milton, New Durham and Wolfeboro, members of Strafford County Sheriff's Department and New Hampshire State Police came to the town's aid.


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