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Follansbee native recognized for pursuing thief

November 17, 2012
By WARREN SCOTT - Staff writer ( , Weirton Daily Times

FOLLANSBEE - A young Follansbee native was among six Louisiana men who were recognized recently for pursuing and apprehending a man who allegedly robbed the grocery store where he works.

Josh Francis admitted he knew his mother, Maria Marosi of Follansbee, probably wouldn't be thrilled about his joining five others in chasing a thief several blocks from the Lake Charles, La. store where he is a cashier and stock clerk.

But he said he figured word would get out, and it did when Lake Charles Police Chief Don Dixon formally recognized Francis and the others, presenting each with a commendation coin he normally awards to officers who go above and beyond the call of duty.

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He and the others also were interviewed by a local television news reporter after chasing and apprehending Joseph Riggs, 47, of Lake Charles, who was charged with simple robbery and possession of drug paraphernalia.

A former Madonna High School student, Francis is completing his senior year at Lake Charles while his father, Jeff, works as a construction superintendent there.

He had been working at the Market Basket, a local grocery store, for about four months and was stocking shelves at about 9 p.m. on Oct. 24 when he heard a cashier scream.

"When she screamed, we all said, 'Whoa, what's going on?'" Francis said. But he and four co-workers ran to the front of the store, out the door and several blocks after Riggs.

Francis said at one point they were crossing a busy street and dodging cars.

"We were playing 'Frogger' across the street. There were drivers slamming on brakes and horns," he said, referring to the video game in which a cartoon frog attempts to cross heavy traffic.

Riggs said he was surprised to see two others - an employee of a local Pizza Hut and John O'Donnell, a local man driving home after running at a local high school track - join the pursuit.

O'Donnell attempted to stop Riggs by pulling his car into Riggs' path. But Riggs ran around it, so he got out of his car and joined the others in chasing him, according to local news reports.

O'Donnell told news reporters he pulled out a small flashlight as though it were a weapon and threatened to "Tase" Riggs, hoping he would fall for the imaginary Taser, and told him to get down.

He, Francis and the others then jumped on Riggs and held him until police arrived.

Francis said he was exhausted by the end of the pursuit.

"It was closing time, so I was already pretty tired," he said.

Asked how his employer responded to his act of heroism, Francis said, "He told me not to do that again."

Francis conceded that's probably due to concern for his safety. He admitted he hadn't considered whether Riggs was armed while he was chasing him.

Francis, who is the grandson of Helen Marosi of Colliers, said he was pleased to be recognized by the police chief and keeps the coin he gave him in his wallet.

(Scott can be contacted at

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