A swing-shift barista (that’s a ‘coffee chef’ to those who don’t live in the heavily-caffeinated Pacific Northwest) violated company policy by wearing a concealed pistol while he worked at a Eugene, Oregon Dutch Bros. coffee kiosk alone and after dark. He has worked for Dutch Bros. for three years, and is trained and experienced with firearms, according to reports. Guess what happened next?
On the evening of November 24th, his kiosk was robbed by an armed man and an accomplice. In the resulting exchange of gunfire, the barista survived thanks to his instincts, his training, and his gun. (And luck, of course.) The robber was 27 year-old Sirus Combs, whose preparation was a gun in his pocked and a long career as a criminal, and whose mindset was that of a sociopathic predator. Combs died in the parking lot, and his accomplice fled.
Up to this point there’s nothing particularly positive about this story, other than that a hardworking young man was not robbed and murdered. But here’s were we discover a few more people who clearly get it, and who did the right thing. The Lane County District Attorney announced that the barista would not face any criminal charges for acting in self-defense. In this case, at least, the DA gets it.
Then there’s the barista’s boss, Travis Boersma. He and his brother started the Dutch Bros. coffee chain in 1992. Instead of firing the young man for violating company policy, Boersma told registerguard.com, “Under this unique circumstance, the (barista) who went through this horrific event did everything to protect his own life.”
All of the employees of the kiosk were given a week’s paid leave after the shooting, and the barista was given 30 days paid leave along with paid counseling as well. His job will be waiting for him when he’s ready to come back, Boersma said. The company has hired private security to guard the kiosk for the indefinite future, and in the meantime Dutch Bros. is re-examining the ‘no-firearms’ policy from the ground up. “We want to make sure (that policy) is in the best interest of our employees,” he said.
Hats off to Travis Boersma, and to Dutch Bros. Coffee, for getting it as well.
The barista, whose name has never been released, is alive and well. He won’t face any legal trauma to aggravate the psychological trauma he’s certainly experiencing, and his employer is going above and beyond the call, supporting him with paid leave and paid counseling. Perhaps equally important, the employer is taking a fresh look at the universal but irrational ‘no weapons’ employee policy that would have cost this young man his life.
As far as fatal shootings go, there are no storybook endings; this is as close as it gets. Now that it’s over, I’m going to find myself a Dutch Bros. coffee kiosk and have a cup.