A Jasper County judge on Thursday ordered a Kansas man to stand trial on a robbery charge in a case in which the defendant is accused of using a handgun to shoplift numerous items from Academy Sports and Outdoors in Joplin.

Associate Judge Joe Hensley decided at the conclusion of a preliminary hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court that there was probable cause for Joshua B. Mayberry, 28, of Baxter Springs, Kansas, to stand trial on a charge of first-degree robbery. The judge set the defendant's initial appearance in a trial division of the court for Aug. 9.

Don Means, an employee of the store, testified that Mayberry came into the business April 22 in the company of a woman, and Means directed them to the section of the store where sleeping bags were available. Means said he later learned from other employees that they were in another aisle stuffing various items into a hunting bag. He said he approached Mayberry at that time and asked if he could help him and that Mayberry asked why he was harassing him.

At that point, Means said, he was called outside to assist another customer in getting an item into a vehicle. While he was in the parking lot, Mayberry came walking out carrying the bag and informed Means and other store employees who were aware of what was going on that he had a gun and that they should stay away from him. He then got in a car with the woman and left, Means said.

Means said he had seen a firearm in Mayberry's waistband while he was still inside the store and believed it to be a small-caliber firearm. Asked by public defender Craig Lowe if he considered having an armed store employee intervene, Means said: "No, we wanted to get him away."

He said police had already been called about him but had yet to arrive, and store employees just wished to avoid getting anyone hurt. He said employees took down the license plate number and took a picture of the suspect's vehicle as the couple were leaving. Mayberry was later arrested in Oklahoma.

Means said he has worked in retail for more than 25 years in stores in several states and that a lot of people carry firearms into a store like Academy Sports. This was not the first incident he's had involving armed customers, he said.

"I've had guns fired in buildings," he said. "I've had people shot. I've had people stabbed."

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Jeff Lehr is a reporter for The Joplin Globe.