WASHINGTON - Many people are talking about the story of an Army veteran who was fired after attempting to stop two shoplifters from leaving the Beltsville CVS store he managed. Since then, there has been an outpouring of support for Joe Morici.
One person who was inside the store when the incident took place is Comcast SportsNet anchor Chick Hernandez. He was in the store last Friday morning to get a passport photo taken.
Hernandez was only in the store for a short time when he heard something.
“I heard this weird noise,” he said. “You couldn’t tell if it was a laugh or a scream. Then five seconds later, here comes who we now know as Joe flying by and is yelling, ‘Call 911.’”
Hernandez remembers Morici running to the door to help an older man using a walker to get out the door before then shutting those doors.
“The two kids ran into the door, which was closed now, and Joe got one of them and had him,” said Hernandez. “The kid he had said to his partner, ‘Shoot him.’ When you hear those terms, two guys I don’t know were like, ‘Oh crap.’ And then Joe said, ‘I've been in the military far too long. You don't have anything.’”
“I don’t really know that they didn’t really have one,” Morici said. “I just kind of assumed.”
Hernandez even went back to the store a few hours later to give a statement to police and to thank Morici.
“I saw Joe, I saw the big screwdriver that one of the kids had, and I said, ‘Joe, you did a heck of a thing,’ and he looked at me and said, ‘I'm probably going to be fired.’ And I’m like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Yeah, it's company policy. You don’t do that.’ It doesn't compute with me. I get it, but I don't get it.”
Morici said he doesn’t believe he should have been fired and he reacted in a way that was instinctive to him.
But many people from around the world have been showing support for Morici after hearing about his story.
“My Facebook has been blowing up from people all over the country just thanking me and reposting it," Morici said. "I've got people from Wichita, Kansas to the Philippines. People back home are calling me. It blew up way bigger than I ever thought it would.”
We reached out to CVS Tuesday and a spokesperson said, "In the unfortunate event of a robbery at one of our stores, the safety and well-being of our customers and employees is always our highest priority. We do not comment on specific security procedures or policies as we do not want to undermine them."
“My boss, when he came in to deliver the news, he was sick to his stomach,” said Morici. “He didn't want to, but he didn't have a choice.”
Since people have learned about Morici’s story, many have come to him with job offers and interview opportunities. The Army veteran also told us on Tuesday that he has already applied for a position with the Prince George's County Police Department.