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Three Employees Fired After Pursuing Gun Thief from Louisiana Sports Store

Shoplifted Gun Leads to Job Termination for Three Sporting Store Workers

In a recent incident regarding a purported act of shoplifting at a sports outlet in Louisiana, three employees reported job termination. Their dismissal from the Academy Sports and Outdoors store, situated in Metairie, LA was a direct result of their attempt to apprehend a gun thief.

They recount how on the evening of December 16, an nominal customer reportedly fled the premises after being handed a pistol he seemed to be purchasing. Michelle Sutton, a team lead at the store, along with other store associates, found themselves in the middle of this unexpected situation.

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Michelle recounts her experience to WGNO, sharing that she instinctively acted upon the news that came through her radio. Her looming concern was forming some form of assistance to the police in the situation. In the spur of the moment, she found herself joined by two other store associates, caught in a fruitless pursuit of the accused shoplifter.

However, this initiative taken by Michelle and her colleagues did not end well for them, as they were allegedly let go from their positions at the sporting goods store. The reason was an alleged breach of company policy. This decision was supposedly made by the firearm compliance personnel of the store, four days after the reported gun theft incident.

As Michelle explains their side of the story, she states they did leave the store’s formal boundaries in order to chase the suspect, but kept to the sidewalk, refraining from going beyond a certain distance. Despite their effort to apprehend the thief, it was deemed as violating the clause that prohibits employees from leaving ‘the front porch’, as it’s colloquially referred to.

Academy’s current policy addresses theft, specifying that store employees are not allowed to chase after suspected thieves. Managers, conversely, are authorized to attempt to bring those who exit the store with unpaid merchandise back to the building. However, they are encouraged to maintain a ‘non-threatening distance’ while doing so, underlines the store’s standard operating procedures.

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Michelle criticizes the guidelines, insisting that they lack comprehensibility and specificity, especially regarding the procedure of gathering important details about the suspect for police reports. She expressed her concerns to the media, stating, ‘There’s no specific guidance on acquiring the location details for the police.’

She continues, stating her store director’s advice was to obtain identifiable information of the suspect’s vehicle, such as make, model and the direction it took after the alleged crime. However, concrete policy or instructions on how to achieve this seem to be absent.

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Michelle emphasizes the need for transparent policies in stores selling firearms, particularly concealable pistols. ‘These stores need to conduct comprehensive training for exposure to unexpected scenarios,’ she adds, pressing on the need for clear protocols in such high-risk situations.

Her concern stems from the incident where all three employees trying to intercept the shoplifter were dismissed due to a supposed policy violation. She critiques Academy for not providing clear instructions to handle such incidents, expressing her hope that the company would undertake necessary measures to avoid future instances where employees are penalized this way.

Academy Sports and Outdoors is a massive retail store chain, with 282 locations scattered primarily in the South, Southeast, and Midwest regions. Their headquarters are stationed in Katy, Texas, a suburb of Houston, demonstrating a significant presence.

The store accommodates a vast range of sports and leisure products, along with specialty items for hunting, fishing, and camping enthusiasts. A considerable clientele is drawn to their assortment of products, signalling the corporation’s broad reach.

Metairie, LA, the location of the specific store in question, is the largest community in Jefferson Parish. Positioned to the Northwest of New Orleans and southern part of Lake Pontchartrain, it becomes a crucial point in context.

Demographics and regional factors might bear weight on incidents like shoplifting involving firearms, given the particular store location. However, without explicit reference or emphasis, it’s essential that these factors be considered in the broader context.

Nevertheless, the entire occurrence brings forth a crucial discussion around retail store policies, their clarity, and the potential implications for employees. By sharing her experiences, Michelle Sutton has called for a review and potential reformation of these policies in a bid to foster better preparedness among employees, particularly in stores dealing in firearms.


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