A convenience store clerk in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been suspended for two weeks after she used a firearm to defend herself during an armed robbery.
Jennifer Wertz told KOAT 7 that armed robberies occur frequently in that area of Albuquerque, and she usually carries a gun while walking to her car alone at night.
After hearing that a 7/11 down the street had just been robbed, Wertz put her gun in her pocket. Soon after a man entered the Circle K convenience store with a handgun and demanded the money from the cash register.
Though Wertz says she wasn’t behind the counter when the man barged in, he soon directed his demands—and the muzzle of his weapon—at her.
“He pointed the gun at my face, I grabbed my gun from my pocket, I cocked it and I shot,” Wertz said.
Though Wertz may have saved her life and that of her co-workers, her actions broke company policy.
“We are not to chase or provoke. We are just supposed to stand there and give them what they want and they leave,” she said.
But on Monday she decided she wouldn’t be a victim any longer.
“I’m sick and tired of being a sitting duck,” Wertz concluded.
Police said the would-be robber—a 23-year-old named Ferron Mendez—was shot in the torso but is expected to survive. He’ll be charged once he is released from the hospital, though he does not have a prior criminal record in New Mexico.
According to the Center for Problem Oriented Policing (CPOP), “Convenience store employees suffer from high rates of workplace homicide, second only to taxicab drivers.” If they survive the experience, robbery victims can also suffer psychological and emotional trauma.
The CPOP notes that, as Wertz indicated, convenience stores have high rates of “repeat victimization.” If a robber is successful, he or she may try the same store again or tell other robbers about the store. If the store fails to implement new safety measures, that location may be robbed on a regular basis.
Store employees can use a variety of tactics to discourage robbers before the situation ever gets violent. One strategy—known as “putting the robber on stage”—has employees greet customers and establishing eye contact with everyone who enters the building.
One comprehensive study of convenience store robberies concludes that “the behavior of clerks may be the most significant factor in determining the extent of injury that results during these robberies.”