Store Heroes Fired?!

Red light – In a shocking turn of events and despite doing their best to protect their employer’s best interest, three store employees were fired after they attempted to apprehend a shoplifter who stole a pistol.

Michelle Sutton, one of the employees and a team lead at Academy Sports + Outdoors in Metairie, Louisiana, described the event that unfolded in mid-December.

Sutton and her colleagues were engaged in a potential sale of a pistol when the customer suddenly fled with the firearm. Reacting swiftly, Sutton said, “I just took off. I knew I needed some form of way to help the police.”

Despite their efforts, the employees were unable to locate the suspect. According to Fox News Digital, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office did not provide immediate comments when contacted.

Four days after the incident, Sutton and two other employees were fired by Academy Sports + Outdoors. The store attributed the terminations to a violation of the store’s loss prevention policy, which strictly prohibits employees from pursuing or physically detaining individuals suspected of theft.

The policy allows loss prevention associates or managers to detain suspects post-exit from the store, but only by maintaining a non-threatening distance and inviting them back into the store.

Sutton reflected on the policy, acknowledging, “Because we did run out of the building, even though I and the other associate did stay on the sidewalk, it fell under [that] we left the front porch, as they call it.”

She said she understood the policy but noted the lack of clarity and training for handling such situations. “Every store that sells firearms, especially concealable pistols, needs to have a clear policy,” Sutton emphasized. “They need to have extra training. They need to prepare for the unexpected.”

This incident highlights the complex challenges retail employees face in situations of theft, particularly involving firearms, and the importance of clear, well-communicated policies and training in such scenarios.