COAL TOWNSHIP - A one-month investigation into an alleged assault and theft at Wal-Mart Supercenter along Route 61 has culminated with the arrest of two Ashland men.

Cody Lee Harris, 21, of 125 W. Biddle St., is charged by Patrolman Matthew Henrich with simple assault, harassment and stalking, retail theft and criminal conspiracy to commit retail theft involving March 16 incidents at the store.

Harris is accused of pushing and punching Wal-Mart asset protection employee Jerry Miller in the left side of his face while Miller attempted to stop Harris from stealing $899.63 worth of merchandise. Miller suffered an injury to his jaw that required medical attention.

Richard Thomas Barnes Jr., 23, of 84 Oakland Ave., who also attempted to steal the merchandise, was charged by Henrich with retail theft and criminal conspiracy to commit retail theft.

Both men fled the store after the 7:30 p.m. incidents into a wooded area toward Ranshaw, but were later identified through surveillance.

According to a criminal complaint filed Thursday at the office of Magisterial District Judge John Gembic III, Miller said he spotted Harris and Barnes stealing merchandise in the electronics department. Miller said one of the suspects cut open a networking wireless range extender package and concealed the items in his coat pocket while the other man was serving as a lookout.

Miller said both men then went into the computer accessories aisle, where they selected more networking items and tried to remove the spider wrap. After damaging the spider wraps in their unsuccessful attempt to get them off the merchandise, the suspects walked to the clearance aisle, where one of them selected a satellite radio system, cut open the packaging and placed the cables into their pockets.

The suspects then walked down the back aisle of the automotive department toward the hardware department before heading toward the front of the store without paying for the merchandise.

Harris and Barnes exited the store through the grocery section before being stopped by Miller in the vestibule area. While Miller was attempting to get the suspects to walk back to the asset protection office, Barnes pushed his way past a manager and ran toward Ranshaw. Harris, who remained in the area, then started to pull merchandise that he stole from his pockets and threw it on the floor.

Police said Harris pushed Miller out of his way and punched him in the face. Miller said Harris pushed him a couple more times inside and outside the store before co-manager Zachary Peterson separated them. Harris then ran through the parking lot toward Ranshaw.