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Walmart camera catches assault on video

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Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009

A 72-year-old employee of Wal-Mart in North Versailles Township was hospitalized with broken facial bones and other injuries after being assaulted outside the store.

Thomas Jenkins, of McKeesport, was transported to UPMC McKeesport, then to UPMC Presbyterian for facial surgery, after Paul Washington, 55, of North Versailles Township, allegedly punched Jenkins in the face.

North Versailles Township police Sgt. Vincent DiCenzo said the incident occurred Tuesday at 6:31 p.m. while he was on routine patrol, and was caught by Wal-Mart's video surveillance cameras.

DiCenzo said he saw Jenkins lying on the ground when a van parked near the front doors of the store moved away.

Police Chief James Comunale said the surveillance video shows Jenkins being punched in the face, apparently by a man police later identified as Washington, as Jenkins was walking along the sidewalk while on his break.

"At this point we have no motive why Mr. Washington did what he did," Comunale said.

Jenkins sustained fractures of all the bones on one side of his face, as well as broken dentures and other injuries.

"It was all caught on video," DiCenzo said. "I didn't see the actual punch because a vehicle was blocking my view. As far as we know there's no connection between the two (men). I can honestly say this is bothering me a good bit. The guy's 72 years old, walking up the sidewalk, and he gets nailed."

Washington told police he had been bumped, which is why he punched Jenkins, Comunale said.

Washington was transported to Allegheny County Jail and faces charges of aggravated assault, harassment, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness.

A preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Robert L. Barner is scheduled for Dec. 10. That hearing may be postponed if the victim is unable to attend due to his injuries.

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