When former AutoZone employee Devin McClean grabbed his gun from his car and chased an armed robber out of his store, he didn’t think his quick thinking would get him fired.
But it did:
“I was in fear of my life as soon as he walked through the door and I see the gun. Your heart just starts pounding,” McClean told NewsChannel 3.
As it turns out, McClean’s Yorktown, Va., store was being robbed by the so-called “fake-beard bandit” (probably the worst nickname in the history of crime), a criminal who had already knocked over about 30 businesses in the Virginia Peninsula area.
As the gunman forced the manager to unlock the store’s safe, McClean, a 23-year-old Air Force veteran, slipped out the back to retrieve his Glock 40 from his truck.
“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,” McClean recalls.
“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,” the former AutoZone employee adds. “I felt like it was my responsibility to step in.”
The gunman wisely chose to flee.
“I watched him run down the street,” McClean told Fox News. “I came back inside and made sure my manager was okay and he called the police.”
But although the store’s manager was grateful for his employee's bravery, McClean was fired two days later -- right before Thanksgiving.
“It’s pretty much getting slapped in the face doing something that you feel was right everybody else around you feels you were right,” says McClean.
Other than to reiterate the company’s zero tolerance policy on weapons inside stores, AutoZone representatives refuse to comment on McClean's firing.
And being laid off couldn’t have come at a worse time for McClean: He's about to be a 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?”
The former AutoZone employee explains that his decision to go back into the store and rescue his co-workers was informed by lessons he learned in the U.S. 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.”
“If I can save somebody’s life, I put that way above a store policy,” he adds.
And you better believe there’s been some backlash against the company for its decision to terminate McClean.
Fox News provides the details:
Cam Edwards, of NRA News, called AutoZone’s decision an “injustice.”
“It may have been corporate policy to fire Devin McLean, but it’s also an injustice. He came to the aid of a fellow employee threatened by an armed robber and was canned. They should have named him employee of the year.”
He said the nation needs more people like McLean.
“He had the chance to run away but instead he chose to arm himself with his legally owned gun and save the life of his supervisor,” Edwards told Fox News. “Wouldn’t we all like to work with someone like Devin?”
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Featured image courtesy NewsChannel 3.
This story has been updated.