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Sporting Goods Store Employees Fired After Chasing Alleged Gun Thief Despite Good Intentions: Report

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Three Academy Sports + Outdoors employees were fired by the company after a man ran out of their Louisiana store with a firearm, and they pursued him outside in an attempt to help police recover the gun.

The employees were each accused of breaking the company’s policy of chasing after shoplifters, despite the fact that what was taken from their store was not an ordinary piece of merchandise.

WGNO-TV reported the theft occurred on Dec. 16 at an Academy location in Metairie, just minutes from downtown New Orleans.

If you have never been to the gun counter at one of the company’s locations, the process for purchasing a firearm is simple.

Prospective gun buyers can ask to look at an unloaded weapon with a lock on it. If the customers like what they see, they can fill out a background check form and if they pass it, they can purchase the gun.

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During the Dec. 16 incident in Metairie, a man asked to look at a handgun and it was handed to him by an employee.

According to WGNO, the man had no interest in purchasing the gun and instead ran out of the store with it.

Store employee Michelle Sutton was working as a team lead when the shoplifter exited the store on foot.

She told the TV station she and two other employees pursued the man by exiting the store’s front doors in an attempt to gather any information that might help police in the high-crime area locate the thief.

“I just took off,” Sutton told WGNO. “I knew I needed some form of way to help the police.”

The woman and the other two employees did not see the man after he left the store, and Sutton said they never left the sidewalk in the front of their store.

The gun and the man who took it have not been located and no one was hurt.

Still, four days after Sutton and her co-workers left the interior of their store with what the woman described as the best of intentions, they were all fired.

“Even though me and the other associates did stay on the sidewalk, it fell under [that] we left the front porch, as they call it,” Sutton told WGNO.

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Academy, like many major retailers, has strict policies that prevent most employees from confronting or pursuing thieves.

Sutton complained about what she called a lack of clarity in the policy as it pertains to assisting police with something such as the theft of a firearm — which is arguably a threat to community safety.

The woman and her colleagues did not see the suspect after he left the store and were unable to gather any information for police.

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She said she would like to go back to work for the company and offered some advice on how future employees can avoid a similar fate.

“Every store that sells firearms, especially pistols that are concealable, need to have clear policy,” she told WGNO. “They need to have extra training. They need to prepare for the unexpected.”

Academy has not commented on its decision to fire Sutton and the other two employees.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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