"I have a fiancee who I love very much, step-children I love, our first grandchild is due in December. Given the situation, and the way the man who tried to rob me was acting, I truly believe if I didn't defend myself I wasn't going to be coming home to see my family," said Cothran.
On Oct. 14 at about 3 a.m. Nashua Police were called to the Shell station for a reported attempted armed robbery. Surveillance footage shows a man who came into the store wielding a knife, who demanded money. Cothran, who was behind the counter, didn't think twice before pulling out his gun, which scared off the would-be robber.
"I can find another job, one way or another. I may be out of employment for months, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Nobody's hurt, everybody gets to go home, that's what matters to me," Cothran said.
Colthran, 29, of Milford, had worked at the Shell station for a decade. He knew very well that the company policy was zero tolerance for weapons at the workplace.
But working third shift alone at a convenience store in a city that has had 20 armed robberies in the past few months, most all of them at convenience stores, prompted Cothran to carry a gun. He has had his permit to carry a concealed weapon for about eight years.
UPDATE: On Oct. 16 Nouria Energy Corp. provided this statement to Nashua Patch, which reads:
"At Nouria Energy, our employees are our most cherished assets. Their safety and the safety of our customers is priority number one. It is with that goal in mind that we do not allow firearms in the workplace. We specifically train our employees on how to react during a robbery attempt to prevent the situation from escalating. Cashiers are instructed to give the intruder what they ask for in an attempt to resolve the conflict peacefully and as soon as possible.
Make no mistake: we care about the personal well-being of employees like Mr. Cothran, whose years of service are truly appreciated--not about the money in the cash register. So, we are especially grateful that this situation was resolved without injury.
We do respect the constitutional right to bear arms. However, we believe the best way to keep our employees and customers safe is to prohibit weapons in the workplace. Our training and policies are aligned with what is customary in the retail/conveniences store industries and is consistent with advice offered by security and police organizations.
Cothran said both his boss and district managers went to bat for him to try to save his job.
"The decision came down from higher ups. Because I do not drive, I would normally have had to go back in to work to find out I was terminated, but luckily my boss let me know at home, and I didn't get stuck in Nashua," Cothran said.
He explained that he is visually impaired and his fiancee normally drops him off at work on her way to her job, and that the couple coordinated their schedules to work out his transportation needs.
All of this will likely complicate his search for a new job.
"My options are paying for a taxi, using public transportation, walking or having someone give me a ride," Cothran said.
He said he's not too worried about it, though – there are other jobs out there. Even if the company reversed itself on the decision to fire him, which isn't likely, Cothran said, he'd have to think twice.
"My one hope for all of this is that they rethink their policy about not permitting cashiers to protect themselves. I realize it's a liability for the company, I am sympathtic with them as far as that goes. But I'm hoping they rethink their policy of letting employees who are licensed to carry concealed weapons do so. I hope they look at this and realize there was no monetary loss to the store, no injuries and that because I am a reasonable human being and a responsible gun owner, they benefitted," Cothran said.
"I don't think I'm a hero, I think I did what any reasonable person would do. I just wanted to be able to go home to my family," he said.
Cothran, who goes by the name Bear, said his given name is Shannon. But because he's over 6-feet- tall and weighs 300 pounds, with long hair and
beard, the name suits him.
Underneath it all, however, he's just a hard-working guy who loves his family and was exercising his right to protect himself.
"No, you can't take anything for granted these days – we have
a growing cultural problem in this country that's affecting things
like crime. We have drug epidemics out of control, our economy is still suffering – people are still desperate, and desperate people do desperate things," Cothran said.
"I believe we have two choices: be a victim or stand up and defend ourselves. I chose to be responsble for my own safety, and for that, I have no regrets," Cothran said.
"I never intended this to get out of control. I didn't want to give details that would compromise the police investigation. My entire reason for speaking about this in any way, shape, or form was because I do have friends in Nashua and family who were inevitably going to hear about this, and I just wanted to inform people of the facts," he said.
"This wasn't an episode of a TV show. This was real. I just did what I had to do to make sure I survived," Cothran said.
Editor's Note: This story was updated Oct. 16 to include statement provided by Nouria Energy Corp., which owns the Shell station where Cothran worked. -CR