Ozarks man used racial slur, tried to run over black traveler at Wal-Mart, police say

Steven Pennington
Steven Pennington

An Ozarks man targeted an out-of-town truck driver in a racially fueled attack, police records indicate.

Steven Pennington of Conway, Mo., allegedly tried to run over a black man multiple times with his SUV and then pulled out a knife and pursued him on foot, Lebanon police and several witnesses reported.

He’s charged with first-degree assault and other crimes.

Pennington called the man, who is not named in police records, by the N-word twice and asked him whether he’d stolen the snacks he’d just purchased at a Wal-Mart.

The victim fled into his truck as witnesses confronted Pennington, persuading him to move away from the victim, according to Lebanon police.

The victim’s account was corroborated by three witnesses who observed the incident and surveillance footage from Wal-Mart cameras, police said.

The victim told police he’d never met Pennington. Police said the two were in the store simultaneously, and after Pennington returned to his car, he then drove toward the victim after he exited the store, police said.

Pennington asked the man whether he had stolen snacks and a grape-flavored energy drink, the man told police.

One witness told police he observed Pennington “circling (the victim) in what appeared to be an attempt to run (him) over.”

When police contacted Pennington’s wife, she told them her husband had been dealing with anger issues “since he lost his leg,” police reported.

The victim was uninjured.

The attorney representing Pennington declined to comment.

The incident, which occurred in September, came about a month after the NAACP issued a travel advisory for Missouri. It was the first time the group had ever made one state the subject of a warning about discrimination and racist attacks.

Pennington is also charged with armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon. His trial is set for June 11.

His bond, initially set higher, was reduced to $10,000 and Pennington posted bond Nov. 21, according to court records.

Max Londberg: 816-234-4378, @MaxLondberg