Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Virginia: AutoZone employee stops armed robbery, gets fired

Every time I hear stories like this, it's frustrating to think of the ridiculous zero-tolerance policies out there that have no room for common sense. Here is yet another, and it took place in York County, Virginia. 

AutoZone employee Devin McLean, 23, an Air Force veteran, was fired by his company after thwarting an armed robber as he and his manager prepared to close the store. The masked bandit pulled a gun, pointed it at their heads, and demanded money.

While his boss was busy opening the safe, McLean was able to slip out to the parking lot, retrieve a Glock 40 from his vehicle, and return to the store. Fox News reported:
“I told him to freeze and to drop his weapon,” McLean told Fox News.

Instead, the robber took off – last seen running down the street from the store.

“I watched him run down the street,” he said. “I came back inside and made sure my manager was okay and he called the police.”
AutoZone's response was to fire him the week before Thanksgiving because he "violated" their zero tolerance policy on employees having weapons inside the store. Now that word has spread about the hero who was fired, AutoZone officials refuse to talk about it or explain further why they fired an employee who save another employee's life.

Mr. McLean talked with Fox News about his dismissal:
“It was a surprise to me,” McLean said. “I did the right thing. I saved the company $2,000. I saved one of their manager’s lives – and you’re letting me go? It was a slap in the face.”

McLean said the firing came at a difficult time. He’s about to be a first-time father.

“We’re having a little boy,” he said. “I remember when the guy came in with that gun. My initial thought was I want to make it home to my family. I want to have the opportunity to meet my son and for my son to meet his dad. And for someone to come in and shove a gun in your face?”

So why not just keep running? Why go back inside the store – and risk your own life?

“I regard them as my family,” McLean said of his co-workers. “You’re not going to leave your brother or sister behind.”

It’s a lesson he learned in the Air Force.

“Never leave a man behind,” he said. “I’m not going to leave my brother in a room with a guy with a gun – that’s threatening his life.”
Local law enforcement called Mr. McLean a hero and noted AutoZone's actions sent the wrong message to the robber:
Sheriff Diggs said AutoZone has also sent an unintended message to the community.

“The company has now sent a message to every would-be robber out there – ‘Hey we’re open for business and unarmed. Come on in and take our money,’” he said.
Some are coming to McLean's side as word spreads of the unfair firing.

NRA News called it an injustice. A boycott against AutoZone has been spread on Facebook. A petition is out there calling for McLean's reinstatement by AutoZone.

Greta Van Susteran talked with McLean Tuesday on her Fox News show.

Glen Beck has spread the news of McLean's firing on his Blaze news.

Local TV station WTKR covered the story with almost 500 comments from readers including some who actually agree with AutoZone's actions.

Perhaps companies, schools, and other organizations should understand there are exceptions to rules. A company employee saving another employee's life should definitely qualify as an exception.  Mr. McLean should be rewarded and receive a hero's ticker tape parade because, quite frankly, the world needs more Devin McLeans.

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

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