Mocobizscene-Three employees of the Academy Sports + Outdoors in Metairie have been fired after they responded to a shoplifter who had stolen a gun. In the evening of December 16, a shoplifter managed to escape from the Academy on Veterans Memorial Blvd. after a sales associate mistakenly handed them a pistol, believing it was part of a transaction.
Michelle Sutton, a team lead at the store, recalls how she sprang into action as soon as she heard the news on her radio. Without hesitation, she abandoned her current task and swiftly responded to the situation.
“I immediately sprang into action,” Sutton exclaimed. “I was fully aware of the urgent need to assist the police in any way possible.”
Sutton and two other sales associates quickly dashed out of the store in pursuit of the suspect, but despite their best efforts, they were unable to locate him.
Academy’s firearm compliance personnel fired Sutton and the two employees four days after the incident due to their response. Sutton explained that they and the other associate did leave the front porch of the building, even though they stayed on the sidewalk. This action was considered as running out of the building.
According to Academy’s policy, employees are prohibited from pursuing or physically restraining a suspect who is fleeing. However, loss prevention associates or managers have the authority to apprehend a suspect who has exited the store. They can approach the individual at a ‘non-threatening distance’ and politely ask them to return to the store.
According to Sutton, the police have not provided any guidance on how to obtain the suspect’s location. However, the store director has emphasized the importance of gathering information such as the make and model of the vehicle involved and the direction in which it was headed.
According to Sutton, the suspect was not in a vehicle in this instance.
Sutton expresses her desire to be rehired for her previous job, but more importantly, she hopes that employees can prevent similar situations in the future through the implementation of a more transparent policy.
According to Sutton, it is imperative for all firearm retailers, particularly those selling concealable pistols, to establish comprehensive policies. Additionally, he emphasizes the importance of providing extra training to store employees and preparing them for unforeseen circumstances.
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