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Shoplifter captured after striking officer in Epping Wal-Mart parking lot, escaping in car

Union Leader Correspondent

February 14. 2014 12:39PM

EPPING - A suspected shoplifter who allegedly struck a police officer during a scuffle in a Wal-Mart parking lot that was caught on security cameras was arrested in Derry Thursday night.

Joshua Peno, 22, of Nottingham, is charged with theft, resisting arrest and simple assault.

Peno is accused of attempting to steal $1,172 worth of DVDs from Wal-Mart Thursday afternoon and then assaulting Epping police Officer Russell Hero when he tried to flee.

Hero responded to the Wal-Mart in Epping Crossing around 2:30 p.m. to investigate a shoplifting report.

Hero said Peno was still inside the store when he arrived. He attempted to arrest him when he exited the store, but Peno dropped the DVDs and took off running through the parking lot near the front of the store.

Wal-Mart's security cameras recorded footage of Peno allegedly fleeing and then Hero catching up to him in the middle of Thursday's snowstorm.

The video shows the two wrestling on the ground as Hero tried to arrest him. At one point, Peno slipped out of his sweatshirt, which is thrown to the ground.

Hero was hit in the head before Peno ran toward a 1995 Ford Taurus car where a female driver was waiting.

At one point, a plow truck driver who was plowing in the parking lot noticed what was going on as Hero ran after Peno again before he got into the car. The plow operator then activated the orange lights on the roof and backed up in an attempt to block the car from fleeing. However, the car quickly sped around the truck and left the parking lot.

"We certainly appreciate that person's effort to assist us," police Capt. Jason Newman said.

While Peno initially got away, Hero was able to remember the number on the vehicle's temporary license plate.

With help from the Rockingham County Sheriff's department and the Rockingham County jail, police were able to identify Peno as the suspect.

Peno also has active felony warrants issued by the Concord Police Department, Newman said. The details of those warrants weren't immediately known.

Peno was later located in Derry and arrested by Derry police. He was expected to be arraigned in Concord today and then turned over to Epping police to face arraignment on the theft and assault charges, Newman said.

Hero wasn't injured and did not require medical treatment.

"Luckily Officer Hero did not sustain any serious injuries," Police Chief Michael Wallace said.

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