Off-duty officer tased by Kelso shoplifter

Off-duty officer tased by Kelso shoplifter

Credit: Facebook

Off-duty officer tased by Kelso shoplifter

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by Jeff Thompson, KGW.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on April 25, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 25 at 2:19 PM

KELSO, Wash. -- A man accused of shoplifting and hitting an officer with a stun gun several times was caught after leaving behind the same baseball cap he wears in his Facebook profile photo (pictured above).

Officer John Croco was shopping at the Kelso Safeway Wednesday night and saw a man sneaking toward the emergency exit with a few bottles of liquor, said Kelso Police Chief Andrew Hamilton.

Croco pushed a shopping cart in front of the suspect and announced he was a police officer. The suspect then pulled a stun gun out of his pocket and started swinging it at Croco, Hamilton said.

"Officer Croco grabbed the suspect by his sweatshirt and he dropped the hand basket and his hat came off," Hamilton said. "The suspect slipped out of his sweatshirt and fled out the emergency exit."

During the scuffle, the suspect had hit Croco four times with the stun gun, leaving minor burns and cuts on his chest, arm and head.

The sweatshirt the suspect left behind read "Class of 2014," and a school resource officer said the man in the video looked like a young man named Austen Epperson that he recognized from Kelso High School.

A detective then saw that in Epperson's Facebook profile photo he was wearing the hat left behind at the scene, Hamilton said.

Investigators went to his house and found the stun gun. Epperson was arrested for assault and theft with special circumstances.

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