Manager, customer battle store robber prior to chase

Staff reports
Joe Watson

Assumption Parish authorities report the arrest of man suspected of robbing a Paincourtville store and fighting with the store manager and a female customer.

Joe Watson, 55, of 704 Applewhite St., Alexandria, reportedly walked into the Family Dollar Store located at 6055 Hwy. 1 Thursday morning and grabbed cash from an open safe.

Sheriff Mike Waguespack said a customer ran after Watson and struggled with him.

The store manager, 23-year-old Tamera Rodrigue of Donaldsonville, reportedly tried to take the keys out of the ignition of Watson’s car and was dragged as the vehicle pulled away and sideswiped a building, the sheriff said.

The car, which the sheriff said was stolen from a repair shop in Alexandria, hit a building and knocked Rodrigue free.

Deputies received a broadcast describing Watson and his vehicle, and sheriff’s detective Melissa Reedy saw the vehicle on Hwy. 70.

The sheriff said Watson ignored Reedy’s attempt to stop him and he sped away at 110 miles-per-hour, traveling west on the highway.

Deputy Brad Albert laid down a spike strip, which deflated Watson’s front tire.

Watson continued driving until the tire disintegrated, forcing him to stop near Shell Beach Road, the sheriff said.

The suspect, who has a criminal record of more than 60 felony arrests in both Louisiana and Texas since 1971, surrendered without incident, Waguespack reported.

An Assumption Community Hospital crew treated the store manager for bruises and abrasions. Rodrigue was then transferred to Thibodaux Regional Medical Center for further examination before being released, according to the sheriff.