Defensive Gun Use of the Day: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished Edition

Devin McLean, an AutoZone employee in York County, VA did something most people would consider admirable. Heroic even. Unfortunately, his employers aren’t of the same opinion. McLean and his boss were in the store alone when The Fake Beard Bandit, a stickup man who’d knocked over 30 businesses in the area, strolled in. For the second time in two months. Yep, he’d already robbed the same store once before, so McLean recognized him. The hirsute hold-up man flashed a gun and demanded the manager open the safe . . .

He apparently didn’t know that McLean was in the can. From wtkr.com:

“I waited for him to go up toward the front, I ran out of the restroom, ran out to my truck where I keep my own personal weapon, grabbed my weapon, came back into the store and confronted the guy,” says McClean.

“When I yelled “freeze” and I said “Stop, drop the weapon,” he threw his hands up with his gun still in his hand he started running,” says McClean. “I felt like it was my responsibility to step in.”

Devin’s manager is grateful.

Unfortunately, AutoZone wasn’t quite as appreciative and fired his ass. As a PR flack told a reporter, they have a zero tolerance policy on employees with guns in their stores. Which in practice means they apply zero thought process to dealing with something like this. That makes it easy to manage difficult situations (“Sorry, nothing we can do about it. That’s our policy.”), but doesn’t say much for he company.

The requisite boycott efforts have since begun to pop up in the wake of McLean’s firing. Meanwhile, if someone knows of a job for a 23-year-old Air Force vet who apparently works hard and is willing to put himself on the line for a fellow employee, we can think of a good candidate.

comments

  1. avatar Matt in FL says:

    I’m curious about the legality of going out, getting your gun, and coming back.

    1. Me too, can he sue for wrongful termination? He wasn’t carrying while on the job. How’s it much different than an innocent bystander in the parking lot that does the same thing?

    2. avatar Sanchanim says:

      they just lost any and all future business from me…

    3. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      It is universal in every state in the U.S. that you can use deadly force to defend another individual whose life is really in danger. And even if that state didn’t have such provisions, there isn’t a jury in this country that would convict an armed citizen who literally stepped in to save someone’s life.

      1. avatar okto says:

        Actually no, it isn’t. In Oklahoma, for example, you may only legally discharge a firearm in public to protect the life of yourself or a blood relative, and only if in direct mortal danger.

    4. avatar Bob says:

      Sigh… I’m already permanently boycotting Walgreen’s, now I can’t shop at AutoZone.

      1. avatar Rokurota says:

        Advance Auto Parts.

        1. avatar Matt in FL says:

          You’re fooling yourself if you think Advance Auto Parts doesn’t have the exact same “no employee weapons” policy. I’ve never had a job with a “corporation” that didn’t have that rule.

      2. avatar Steve (CT) says:

        NAPA auto parts, if they have them where you live. I believe they’re franchised so locally owned & controlled. No big corporate policy to adhere to.

    5. avatar Rob says:

      That’s a good point. The moment he ran out of the store he was out of harm’s way. At that point, from a legal perspective, he was probably obligated to call the police and stay hidden/out of harm’s way.

      I think that by running back into the store after he had reached safety he would be considered a vigilante rather than defending himself, from a legal perspective, of course.

      1. avatar speedracer5050 says:

        Kind of a gray area depending on Va’s law. I can see your point about him being out of harms way, but as his boss was still inside and being held at gunpoint I can see where him grabbing his weapon and going back in to defend and protect his boss would also be allowed.
        Some states have the provision for protection of self, family and third parties.
        Personally I support him 1000% because of the simple fact that regardless of law and policy he ran to the fight and not away.
        Again depending on VA law he might slam dunk AZone with a illegal or unlawful termination suit since he was not only protecting his boss but also protecting AutoZone property and assets.
        Just my opinion.

    6. avatar Nathan says:

      According to handgunlaws.us, “Deadly force is only allowed if you are under IMMEDIATE threat and you reasonably fear that you, or another innocent party, will be killed or be grievously injured.” If someone is pointing a gun at your manager, I would classify that as reasonable fear of death or grievous injury.

  2. avatar IdahoPete says:

    “… they [AutoZone] have a zero tolerance policy on employees with guns in their stores.”

    And I have a zero tolerance policy on corporations that want their employees and customers to be defenseless victims.

    1. avatar gringito says:

      +1 !

    2. avatar Bob says:

      CAUTION!!! AutoZone is a kill-free zone!

      Go to their site and email them that they lost your business for life.

  3. Wow how rediculous. He stops a robbery and is fired for it. Thanks for nothing.

    1. avatar Bob says:

      What if the DGU’er was a customer, would AutoShit ban him from their stores?

  4. avatar Todd Price says:

    Next time that manager has someone point a gun at him, hopefully he will stuff cash into a bag for the robber and wish him a merry Christmas. Auto Zone is now on my no shop list. Geez, the guy wasn’t even packing on shift and he gets fired…unreal.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      Now that you know they are all unarmed, maybe you should start your “shopping” there so you have ready cash for all your other shopping needs. [sarc.]

  5. avatar Lowne says:

    I had to send them an email via their website.

    I understand that companies have policies but in this specific case some ethics and a little honor would have went a long way for AutoZone. Instead they chose to hang a veteran out to dry for doing the right thing.

    I used to be an AutoZone customer for any needs I had that they could help with…not anymore.

    1. avatar Anon in CT says:

      I understand that their insurers probably reqire the policy and all, but there should always be room to exercise a little discretion.

  6. avatar Graybeard says:

    Saw this yesterday on FB.

    I know this was in Virginia – and I’m not – but our local AutoZone just lost some potential customers. Myself among them.

  7. avatar Damon says:

    Just one more great reason to stay away from AZ….. i don’t like them much anyway but this doesn’t help. Jeez.

  8. avatar Moonshine says:

    “Meanwhile, if someone knows of a job for a 23-year-old Air Force vet who apparently works hard and is willing to put himself on the line for a fellow employee, we can think of a good candidate.”
    ——
    If he’s willing to relocate to central MN, I’ll refer him to the firm that just hired me. They’re VERY vet-friendly.

  9. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

    If gun owners are going to boycott every business with a policy prohibiting employees from carrying firearms, we are going to be doing a lot of Internet shopping, fixing our own stuff, amusing ourselves at home and eating at home from delivered food.

    Talk about living in a knee-jerk fantasy world. Start asking around at businesses you visit if they allow emplyees to carry firearms, and boycott that business, instead of waiting to be told where not to patronize because an employee was fired because of their policy. Be pro-active!

    1. avatar Lowne says:

      I don’t think it’s the policy that folks are going to have an issue with, at least I don’t, it’s the fact that this person was fired for what could have been a life-saving act and that special circumstances weren’t taken into consideration.

      Had this guy been walking around the store armed then I could understand but he responded in a self sufficient manner to a threat that was presented to him and his boss.

      I do agree, most every Corporation has a policy like this I’m sure and we’d be hard pressed to shop somewhere that didn’t.

      That’s just my thoughts though.

      1. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

        Good points Lowne.

    2. avatar great unknown says:

      Many gun owners lean to being conservative-libertarian, so we have no problem making some compromises for the sake of principle. As oppossed to liberals whose only principle is not to have any principles.

      BTW, most of my ordering is already via Internet, and although I have used Autozone several times, those were the last times. I no longer patronize Walgreens for similar reasons. Not even a difficulty involved there. Fixing my own stuff? The places I patronize allow guns for their employees: in the civilized world, that is becoming the norm. Same for eating out. There’s a reason many states have specifically allowed CC “even” at establishments serving alcohol. And I refuse to set foot in a Simon mall.

      Of course, for those in the primitive, pagan parts of the USA, this might not be obvious, but then, very little is.

      1. avatar Moonshine says:

        Easy there, killer. Some of us “pagans” like to carry everywhere, too.

        1. avatar great unknown says:

          Didn’t mean to insult you if you are truly a pagan. I was thinking in terms of Dennis Prager’s brilliant and accurate characterization of liberalism as a religion. As such, it must be a form of paganism.

          On the other hand, if you are a pagan of the liberal variety, how do you reconcile that with carrying everywhere?

          In any case, to avoid ambiguity, I will start using the term libero-pagan. Or perhaps pago-liberal.

        2. avatar Moonshine says:

          No insult what-so-ever. I was only alluding to the fact that firearms ownership and enthusiasm for same is not solely the province of the Judeo-Christian religious machine.

          As for religious/political affiliation (since the question was implied), I’m a libertarian atheist. We want to be left the fvck alone. By everyone.

          Cheers!

      2. avatar shawmutt says:

        Way to bring political hackery into the conversation for no apparent reason at all.

        ~signed, a liberal atheist (who also happens to get involved with a little 2A activism)

        P.S. I think most chains have a no firearm policy for employees, in fact many warehouses that store the stuff you buy on the internet probably also have no gun policies for employees.

    3. avatar MannyF says:

      I don’t have a problem with that.

    4. avatar Doug says:

      He wasn’t carrying on the job, his gun was stowed in his car. He was following company guidelines by not being armed during work. When his fellow workers’ lives were in jeopardy because a man was pointing a gun at their faces, he went outside, retrieved his gun, and defended the other employees. To fire him for that, bringing a gun into the store TO WARD OFF AN ARMED ASSAILANT, is absolutely unforgivable.

    5. avatar KCK says:

      The boycott is not for the policy, but applying no thought that maybe they did not think of this scenario and could have said this ZT policy does not apply and adjust their policy.
      He was not carrying on the job, he left his job (under his breath he might have said “I quit”) then returned as a citizen hero(no cape required) then after the incident, his manager reinstated him. No violation.
      If I was management, I would create a loophole like this so that AZ wouldn’t look so stuuuupid!!!! Whoever makes a policy can change a policy and the policy on policies could be that a policy can be retroactive.
      See how stupid this all is.
      AZ, just say you f ‘ ed.

  10. avatar JPD says:

    I posted my response to Auto Zone on another post on TTAG today. Here it is reprinted.

    So, below is the response I sent in to Auto Zone. I no longer shop there.

    “Congratulations!!

    You have successfully run a customer off, for life. Plus anyone else that I can convince to shop elsewhere.

    Why? By firing an employee for daring to attempt to protect himself and others from a robbery. Since you have no regard for the safety of your employees or customers, then I will choose to shop elsewhere.

    Policies that demand employees remain helpless in the face of potentially life threatening situations only make victims. Read the newspaper. Look at some REAL statistics.

    Thank God none of my friends or family work for you.

    John”

  11. avatar Skyler says:

    As bad as it seems, the liability laws in many states make it very bad for companies if they encourage armed employees, and not discouraging it looks a lot like encouraging it to many juries.

    I’m not saying it’s right, but it’s not senseless.

    1. avatar JPD says:

      I agree with what you are saying. We are allowing lawyers and insurance companies to affect our lives in this respect.

      We can change that perception. With the facts. If I was on a jury in Texas, and they presented the facts I have posted below, I would rule in favor of a company with a “carry at work” policy.

      Here it is:

      DPS typically releases the data for two years at a time. Here are some examples of what the data show for the most recent calendar year – 2011:

      In 2011, there were 518,625 active CHLs, but only 120 total convictions.

      Overall – The general population over age 21 is over 15 times as likely to commit any offense listed by DPS as are CHLs

      Assault – The general population over age 21 is over 26 times as likely to commit an assault as are CHLs

      Burglary – The general population over age 21 is almost 100 times as likely to commit a burglary as are CHLs

      Terroristic threat – The general population over age 21 is over 20 times as likely to commit a terroristic threat as are CHLs

      Prohibited Weapons – The general population over age 21 are almost 30 times as likely to be convicted of possessing prohibited as are CHLs

      http://www.texaschlforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=17975

  12. avatar squarebob says:

    I just went to the autozone website and sent them a message that I and everyone I know will not be shopping at their stores any longer.

  13. avatar bontai Joe says:

    Makes me wish I knew of an available job in his neck of the woods. The guy does a standup thing and gets fired for it, just ain’t right.

  14. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I hope as many people as possible boycott AutoZone.

    There are numerous examples where armed criminals kill company employees in a back room after opening a safe. The employee who retrieved his firearm to defend his manager did nothing wrong. A company that would fire an employee for that type of conduct is really messed up.

  15. avatar speedracer5050 says:

    What a crock. I hope Autozone Corporate Offices can pull their collective heads out of their ass and see how stupid they are. I realize there is a liability issue to some extent but come on.
    The vet may have saved more than his own life with his actions. He ran to the fight not away from it and should therefore be commended for his actions. Instead they fire him?? WOW!!!
    Definitely sounds like wrongful termination since he wasn’t carrying a firearm until after the fact that they were in harms way from an armed robber!!
    I would just about bet a paycheck that most courts would find in his favor, especially with him being a vet.
    We have work in our area if he wants to relocate to Ar. Kudos to him for standing up for himself and his boss!!

  16. avatar JPD says:

    I am on a statistic binge today. This is off topic, but I thought you would find these stats from 2011 interesting.

    “What he finds is that “law enforcement officers appear to be involved in violent crime in a comparable rate with the general population. 432 officers out of every 100,000 compared to 454.5 people out every 100,000. So, roughly 0.43% vs 0.45%.”

    In Texas CHL holders are 15 TIMES LESS LIKELY to commit a crime than the general population. Or our active LEO’s!!

    I bet, with proper research, a similar statistic would be the same nationwide.

    http://www.copblock.org/1595/making-the-case-for-more-police-accountability/

  17. avatar MannyF says:

    I just wrote the company. Feel free to use/amend my comments:

    As a loyal customer I would like to share my opinion regarding the events surrounding the attempted robbery of a York County, VA AutoZone store where an employee, Devin McLean, was fired for stopping the robbery.

    First I’d like to say that I understand that AutoZone has a zero-tolerance policy of not allowing employees to have firearms in any of your stores. I respect AutoZone’s right to have whatever regulations or policies they see fit. I do wonder if AutoZone has a policy regarding non-employees having firearms in its stores. If it doesn’t, then AutoZone clearly has put its employees at risk. If it does have a policy prohibiting non-employees from bringing firearms in its stores, then it’s apparent that the policy does not work.

    On to my main point. I am concerned that because of said zero-tolerance policy this event was not looked at as an individual incident and it seems like other important factors were not considered. The fact that Mr. McLean had his personal firearm outside of the store in his personal vehicle shows that he respected company policy. I think it is honorable that when faced with the opportunity he chose to protect his fellow employees and attempted to prevent the robbery. I am disgusted at the lack of leniency and the fact that the company would rather have employees be victims and deny them their right to defend themselves. With that said, I will no longer be a patron of AutoZone and will make every attempt to disuade my family members and friends from doing.

    Sincerely,
    MannyF

  18. avatar TexanHawk says:

    Dear Autozone,

    I have decided to stop shopping at your stores. Your summarily firing Devin McLean, an AutoZone employee in York County, VA, and then hiding behind a corporate policy applied without reason or thought is pedantic idiocy. I choose to not do business with someone who cannot think.

    To apply a rule to the letter, rigidly, unquestioningly, in cases where it fits and in cases where it does not fit, is pedantry. … To apply a rule with natural ease, with judgment, noticing the cases where it fits, and without ever letting the words of the rule obscure the purpose of the action or the opportunities of the situation, is mastery. — George Pólya

    TexanHawk

  19. avatar Average_Casey says:

    Well, add another store to my avoid shopping there list. A store that would rather see their employees murdered is not one I will frequent.

  20. avatar MD Matt says:

    It’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating. Companies discourage employee intervention, armed or otherwise, due to liability concerns. I work for a bank, and an employee who attempts to overpower a robber is looking at potential termination. That isn’t because the bank wants to lose the money. It’s because the bank is afraid that they’ll lose more money in the resulting court case when the injured criminal and/or other employees decide that the company is responsible for damages resulting from said intervention.
    Barring citizens from legally carrying on premises is one thing. Barring employees from doing so is a liability question and one more complex than the situation suggests at first glance.
    I agree, it sounds like this guy did the work of a hero and got paid a villans wages. But such issues are rarely as simple as they first appear.
    Perhaps it would be worth examining the insurance risks a company shoulders by allowing guns in the hands of employees?

    1. avatar Rybred says:

      well than perhaps it will begin to make more fiscal sense when word gets out that companies are losing massive amounts of business due to law abiding citizens boycotting them.

      things need to change, it doesn’t make sense to just go along with the status quo indefinitely

      1. avatar Guy22 says:

        Yah! I agree.
        Things seem to changing, just not for the better!!!

        Guy22

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      MD Matt,

      I completely understand your explanation. And it highlights the fact that many companies prioritize dollars over their employees’ lives and well being. That is the primary reason that labor unions formed in our country. (Many companies refused to pay for adequate safety equipment, training, and procedures because it cost them money — versus an injured employee that cost them nothing.) It was wrong 100 years ago for companies to allow dangerous work environments and it is still wrong today. The only difference is that the danger comes from criminals rather than machines.

  21. avatar Aharon says:

    I sent an email (brief) to autozone letting them know that I will never shop any of their stores because they fired an employee who defended himself with a gun.

    autozone general comments and questions:
    https://www.autozone.com:443/autozone/contactus/generalComments.jsp?landingPageCategory=inOurStores&title=generalcomments

  22. avatar ST says:

    IMO, we all need to take a step back and realize some sad facts.

    In our modern legal system, the bad guy can and almost certainly will sue the defender in court after the dust settles. If the bad guy is dead, his family will take up the mantle instead.Civil suits are not cheap to defend against-and if we know that after every DGU there’s likely to be a lawsuit attached to it, life can get very expensive for any business with the misfortune of being in a high-crime area. Lets assume we’re Autozone for a moment. Inventory is insured, as is the cash in the drawer. If each store gets robbed once they write off the loss and call the insurance company. Bad, but a manageable situation. If one of these robberies results in a dead employee, that’s not good and very tragic-but again a manageable situation as far as the bottom line is concerned.

    If instead every employee involved in the thousands of robberies Autozone suffers fought back and triggered a lawsuit by the perps who name the company as a defendant, the business could be on the hook for millions of dollars in legal fees and possible judgements . In this economy that can be a path to insolvency.

    The problem here isn’t Autozone. The problem is a legal system that awards more rights to the scumbags then the citizens.

    1. avatar speedracer5050 says:

      On the other hand what would happen if an employee or two or a couple of customers were killed because AZone won’t allow their employees to carry even though it is legal and the only reason employees don’t is because of corp policy and the fact that most people can’t afford to lose their jobs with theconomy the way it is.
      The lawsuits would likely be as expensive,if not more, when the families and employees file a civil suit against them.
      I can see where this is a thin fence they are sitting on but they really should consider the consequences on both sides of the coin.
      As far as Devon being fired for his actions I hope he finds a new job real soon, and then slaps Autozone with a huge wrongful termination suit and refuses to settle out of court. Maybe the boycott and a good dose of public humiliation,along with the loss of income will force them to change or revise their policy to allow at least one employee per shift to carry.
      AZone has joined my No Buy Zone along with Walgreens and a couple of other places.

      1. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

        I also will again suggest that you be pro-active and start asking every business you enter if employees are allowed to carry and use their weapons against threats. If so, they also deserve a boycott because they will likely enforce their regulations and fire employees who break this rule. Your usual routine will be drastically altered if you apply your principles evenly, not selectively.

        1. avatar speedracer5050 says:

          I understand what you are saying. Currently where I live there is a Walgreens,Autozone, 2 restaurants, and 2 grocery stores I will not do business with because of their firearms policy. Our town is not that big, 10,000, but even though it may have and does still cost me a little extra I will not do business with them.
          So far I have handed out over 50 of the no business/ concealed carry cards that RF made available on here recently. I ordered 200 and passed a handful out to friends who are ccw license holders also!!
          I still have the scar across my right thigh from a shoplifter who, when we confronted him in the parking lot, turned and laid my thigh open with a straight razor. In the process, since I was working for Wal Mart in Loss Prevention, I was fired when I pulled my weapon out and knocked him out by hitting him in the forehead. Don’t do business with Wal Mart anymore either!!

        2. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

          I therefore give you sincere kudos for following your principles every day in your business participation.

      2. avatar Kendahl says:

        ST: I would like to hear from a lawyer on this. However, it’s my guess that such a suit would be a non-starter. I suspect that AutoZone, or any company with the same policy, would owe no more to an employee or customer injured or killed by a robber than it would if the employee or customer dropped dead from a heart attack inside the store. A clumsy oaf who tripped over his own feet on a clean, dry floor would have a better chance of collecting. From the company’s point of view, it has nothing to lose if an employee or customer is injured or killed and much to lose if the robber is injured or killed.

        The problem isn’t with lawyers or insurance companies. It’s with the laws passed by state governments. (Agreed, they are largely made up of lawyers.) Company policies might change if criminals were prohibited from suing for injuries or death suffered during commission of their crimes regardless of the cause.

        1. avatar ST says:

          I think the threat at hand isn’t whether or not the criminal actually will win a judgement, but the expense one has to incur to defend themselves . Even if the bad guy loses the good guy(s) has to drop 50K in legal fees to defend themselves. That’s almost as bad as a judgment.

          I agree a solution to the problem would be laws against people filing suit due to the consequences of their own criminal behavior.

  23. avatar MOG says:

    ST, I agree. If you just stand there, you could be dead, defend and you will be charged/ sued. I realize that is painting with a broad brush, but how many people walk away because they have come to believe that to get involved would mean legal action/civil action against them? On the other hand they could be charged/sued for inaction as well. Best bet, don’t be there. This came about because of blanket laws being passed, instead of laws already on the books for case by case action. I remember the first hint, on TV public service, when the slogan came out, “don’t help a good boy turn bad”. In other words, it is society’s fault. Lazy laws for lazy investigations/criminal courts/LEOs, and a boon for lawyers. (All that aside, I do not encourage being a hero, that is also on a case by case situation).

  24. avatar Tod Chapin says:

    Somebody should look into banning fake beards, shouldn’t they?! I mean, it was used in several robberies it must be evil in and of itself!!

    1. avatar JPD says:

      My God!!! Tod, you are right…..the evil fake beard made him rob the store. Where is Bloomberg and his anti-fake beard mayors going to do?

  25. avatar Leon says:

    I can only hope that the people at Auto Zone will awaken tomorrow to all the bad press they are getting and, not only re-hire this young man, but give him a raise. Or better, he gets hired by a competitor in the area to much fanfare and positive press.

  26. avatar James says:

    They have their policy and that is their right as a corp….this is a tough pill given he morally and legally did the right thing. Just sucks he was fired. Would have liked to see him reprimanded instead.

  27. avatar TRUTHY says:

    I think I see a lot of people constantly in need of a cause.

  28. avatar The Old Coach says:

    I dunno why anybody was buying at Auto Zone to begin with. OK, maybe for brand name oil and filters, but everything behind the counter there is the cheapest Chinese import knockoffs they can find. I wouldn’t use any of them to repair a lawnmower.

  29. avatar pat says:

    AutoZone=pussy

  30. avatar pat says:

    AutoZone=wussies

  31. avatar Kory says:

    Front Sight already said they would hire this guy and give him a nice cushy job where he can use guns all day…

    http://www.ignatius-piazza-front-sight.com/2012/12/02/front-sights-monday-blog-combat-mindset-in-action/

  32. avatar TJ says:

    The man had robbed 30 other stores, and as long as you gave the man what he came for, there was likely no danger. By confronting this individual the situation could have been tragic. I think businesses are well within there rights to ban employees from having weapons in the place of business period. They were right to follow their polices, and fire this employee, he brought a weapon into the store. People with defense guns are sometimes a danger to other innocent bystanders, but their minds just can’t comprehend that.

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Oh, so because this guy had a track record of only being a non-violent gun-wielding lawbreaking douchebag, we should just give him what he wants and let him go? If you were in that store and he pulled the gun on you, how would you have known he’d done it 30 times before without actually using the gun?

      Appeasement? Jamie Foxx (yeah, I know he was just in that other video) speaks for me on this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_L2dPSFvbk&feature=youtu.be&t=11s

      If this guy had pulled a gun and robbed 30 stores before this one, that just means that Devin McLean’s actions were 29 stores too late.

  33. avatar Andrew says:

    I work at Walmart were there is a policy of no guns for employees, but I do carry on the job a small revolver in the pocket and my Semi-auto in the truck. I hope the situation never comes up but I value defending myself and staying alive, over possible termination. I also have a legal CPL and am not breaking the law.

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