The Grove City Division of Police gave special recognition to a Grove City man who thwarted a would-be robber and held on to him until officers could arrive.

Police Chief Jeff Pearson presented Timothy Harness, 46, with a certification of appreciation at an Aug. 24 ceremony.

On July 23, Harness was at a business in the 3100 block of Broadway when a man police later identified as Richard W. Lockhart, 29, of Walden Bluff Court, Grove City, allegedly walked up to the counter and demanded the clerk give him money from the register.

Harness said he noticed the man approaching the counter.

"He had his hand inside his jacket and was moving it like he had a gun," Harness said.

The cashier initially gave the robber small bills, he said.

"He told her to give him all of the money, and when she started putting 20s on the counter, that's when I decided I could do something about it," Harness said.

Harness said he came from the side and got behind the man and used what is known as the rear-naked choke, a move used in mixed martial arts.

"My dad was in the Marines and he had me go through tae kwon do training when I was a kid. I later got interested in MMA and that's where I learned the rear-naked choke hold," he said. "It ended up coming in handy in this situation."

In the rear-naked choke, a person encircles one of arm around the opponent's neck, then places the other hand behind or on top of the opponent's head. The person then brings the elbows together to apply pressure to both sides of the opponent's neck.

"It's really difficult to get out of that hold," Harness said. "People start to panic, because they instinctively think they're going to choke to death, and they start moving their hands up toward their throat, and you're able to get control of them.

"You're not going to choke to death," he said. "If you can breathe, you're not going to choke."

After taking action, it was a matter of waiting for the police.

"I've got to give credit to the police department," Harness said. "They got to the scene in about three or four minutes.

"It was only three or four minutes, but it felt like 15 or 20 minutes," he sid.

Harness said he had seen police officers use the same hold in apprehending suspects on true-crime shows on television.

"I didn't really think about being in any danger," he said. "I knew I would take him by surprise and I knew what kind of hold would work."

Harness showed "quick thinking and decisiveness" in acting to thwart the robbery, Pearson said.

"It's really an individual decision on whether to get involved when there is a crime in progress," he said. "The best case is usually to just be a good witness.

"Our officers were certainly appreciative when they arrived on the scene and found the suspect was detained," Pearson said.

The certificate of appreciation is given to residents "who go above and beyond in helping the community," he said.

Harness said he "felt a little guilty" accepting the award, because his action "is what you're supposed to do."

"Grove City's been really good to me since I moved here three years ago," Harness said. "It's my home. ... I felt like this guy was committing a crime against my neighborhood. I'm just glad I could help."

Police said Lockhart was charged with a felony count of robbery. The case is proceeding through Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

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