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Clerk: 'I'm No Hero; I Just Wanted to Go Home to My Family'

Bear Cothran, who scared off a would-be robber by showing a gun and then got fired for having a gun, says he has no regrets.

Shannon "Bear" Cothran. Courtesy Photo.
Shannon "Bear" Cothran. Courtesy Photo.
Bear Cothran said he has no regrets, after losing his job Monday for violating his company's "no guns" policy just hours after scaring off an armed robber by showing his concealed firearm.

"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

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Erin Monahan Balcom October 15, 2013 at 10:53 PM
if you know anything about Bear, then you would know he must have felt his life was endangered or he wouldnt have responded accordingly. i applaud him for his response, & restraint, as he was able to return to his family & friends. his now former employer should be ashamed of firing him.
Nicholas Ryan Ferrick October 16, 2013 at 12:34 AM
Nouria energy are a bunch crooks I used to work at the shell in wilmington ma and they fired me for defending myself with a knife during a robbery they don't care about anyone but them selves. Like as I read bear has worked there for a decade for a company to terminate someone that is visually impaired that has worked for the store for so long and all he was doing was protecting his life like seriously this company is a bunch of thiefs
Kevin Kervick October 16, 2013 at 07:04 AM
If someone is a paid employee or consultant from a political organization, good ethics would require that person to disclose that in his comments.
Ellen McCormick October 16, 2013 at 10:14 AM
"Cothran said both his boss and district managers went to bat for him to try to save his job. " Why don't people read before they comment and criticize?
JIM October 16, 2013 at 10:34 AM
We should Boycott this company until it does the right thing and rehires Bear. Nouria Energy is a multi-branded wholesaler, which distributes Shell, Irving and Gulf fuel.We should contact them and ask them to rehire Shannon (Bear) Cothran Their E-mail is customerservice@nouriaenergy.com
Andrew M. Zuba October 16, 2013 at 10:47 AM
Kudos to Bear. As we all know, when seconds count police are minutes away. As far as Shell/Nouria is concerned, Policies and Procedures are guidelines. Exceptions to P & P can be made and are made every day. The individual who made the decision is no doubt a cubicle dwelling Associate Human Relations Specialist on loan from the Human Relations Internal Audit Control Department who reports to the Assistant to the Special Vice President's Co-Chair's Interim Director of Global Operations. If this genius had read a Nashua paper or had been even slightly aware of the recent wave of crime in this city Bear would have his job. The would be robber would be the focus of all of the posts. The police would be thanking Bear and all would be right with the world. Go Nashua.
Sonia Prince October 16, 2013 at 12:32 PM
I'm glad he's OK, but he could have easily taken on the robber with pepper spray or a fire extinguisher. Luckily he didn't pull the trigger and no one else was in the store; however I doubt this man has any training on being in tough circumstances with a gun. I'd rather go shopping knowing that everyone serving behind the counter is unarmed than the opposite. No one can tell you if any of these workers or gun owners have bad tempers, make bad decisions in stressful situations or take any meds to regulate mental health issues, etc. So many things can go wrong when there is a gun in the room. People who are visually impaired can't serve in the military or can't always get a driver's license unless an eye doctor says they are capable; but they can carry a gun? Guns in the home increase risk: Rather than being used for self-defense, guns in the home are 22 times more likely to be involved in accidental shootings, homicides, or suicide attempts. For every one time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were 4 unintentional shootings, 7 criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.  Deaths: From 2005-2010, almost 3,800 people in the U.S. died from unintentional shootings. More than a third of the victims were under 25 years of age.  Injuries: In 2010, unintentional firearm shootings caused the deaths of 606 people
Dot Knightly October 16, 2013 at 01:02 PM
Why is it so many people these day's stress what "Could Have" happened? Or what "Could" happen? Is this what our Society has become? Well it didn't happen and by the looks of things, Bear is a RESPONSIBLE gun owner. Bear "Could have" been killed if he wasn't armed. Thank God he was. And if the Robber didn't turn and walk away, too bad for him! I would much rather have an armed store clerk in my corner when a thug walk's in to rob the store. Sonia, do you even live in Nashua? Are you aware how uncomfortable it is to walk into a Nashua Store these day's wondering if it will be robbed while you're there?
Kevin Boyle October 16, 2013 at 01:21 PM
Ok Nouria Energy Corp. what safety measures did you take to keep him safe where an armed man just walked right behind the counter with ease? hmmmm oh yea and what police and security agencys are you talking to considering the Nashua Police went on record saying this was good and that as long as trained it is a good idea hmmmmmmm Idiot corporate puke coming out of Billionaire mouths while the little guy had to stand up for himself boycott Nouria Energy Corp.
Harry Ball October 16, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Firing someone for saving their own life is asinine.
Dot Knightly October 16, 2013 at 01:37 PM
NH has Stand Your Ground Laws and that's exactly what Bear did. He stood his ground and was fired for doing it. Asinine is right!
Sonia Prince October 16, 2013 at 01:41 PM
Dot, "do you even live in Nashua?" as you question my living in Nashua? I've been in Nashua for 18 yrs, I don't see your point regarding where I live vs my opinion on this situation or guns? You obviously don't know a lot of people. I could think of 20 people off the top of my head that I know who have jobs that I would "never" want owning a gun or even attempting to take a decision on my behalf to protect me or themselves. Not to mention multiple people carrying guns make it hard for any official to know who is the good guy and who is the bad guy! Even gun safety instructors shoot people accidentally; and more than one time! This guy shot one of his school teacher students and another lady; my Nashua neighbor shot himself in the leg. Educate yourself before you go criticizing when you have no clue of the statistics on accidental shootings. I see the NRA has done a great job scaring you into buying a gun and making more $$ http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/public/2013/08/21/accidental-shooting-was-not-first-for-firearms-instructor.html Here is a list of 40 accidental shootings in the last year by "responsible gun owners" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/accidental-shooting Seven shootings on this day: 'Gun Appreciation Day' marred by accidental shootings http://theweek.com/article/index/239023/gun-appreciation-day-marred-by-accidental-shootings More Guns = More Accidental Shootings: People of all age groups are significantly more likely to die from unintentional firearm injuries when they live in states with more guns, relative to states with fewer guns. o On average, states with the highest gun ownership levels had 9 times the rate of unintentional firearms deaths compared to states with the lowest gun ownership levels. A federal government study of unintentional shootings found that 8% of such shooting deaths resulted from shots fired by children under the age of six. Youth and Accidental Shootings: Over 1,300 victims of unintentional shootings for the period 2005–2010 were under 25 years of age. For kids ages 5 to 14, the mortality rate is 14 times higher in high gun ownership states than low gun ownership states. For infants and toddlers, ages 0 to 4, the mortality rate is 17 times higher in high gun ownership states than low gun ownership states. The majority of people killed in firearm accidents are under age 24, and most of these young people are being shot by someone else, usually someone their own age. The shooter is typically a friend or family member, often an older brother. http://nyagv.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Accidental-Shootings-NYAGV.pdf
Dot Knightly October 16, 2013 at 01:50 PM
Sonia, wasn't trying to be mean. I questioned if you live in Nashua as so many are very uncomfortable patronizing stores due to the recent rash of robberies in Nashua. Doesn't it make you the least bit uncomfortable? Responsible gun owners don't cause deaths. Irresponsible gun owner's and criminals do.
Dot Knightly October 16, 2013 at 01:53 PM
Sonia, I know many people and there are some who I would never want to see own a gun. You are speaking of irresponsible gun owner's. Quite obvious, Bear isn't one of them.
Brian Blackden October 16, 2013 at 03:04 PM
As a Federal Firearms Dealer in Concord, I feel if someone has the required federal or state background check completed and they have passed the requistes for a concealed license to carry, I have no issue with anyone being legally armed. That said, the gray comes into the scene when an employer forbids firearms on their premise for employees. The problem is they are only thinking about their assets, not employees. Surely give them their money but is the employer in a position to give up an employee's life? The only remedy is to work somewhere else if you desire to carry, or unfortunately in this incident, need to display a "contraband" item and get fired for protecting your life (or thier assets, although I would not be worried about their assets due to insurance). The other option is to talk responsibly with the owners and have them authorize a home defense size canister of pepper spray that gives off a fire extingushisher type discharge of 20-30 feet and stop the threat without a firearm. I have supplied many a store owner with such a canister since many owners are uncomfortable with employees and firearms, but they will acquiese to pepper spray, and, it is thier business. There are options, but I do feel sorry for this man, he succeded in saving his life, or protecting it from serious bodily injury, since robbers don't always just take the money and run, but got fired doing it. I hope a person in the Nashua area gives him a job as he appears to be a lawful citizen, and a long term employee of apparent good standing.
JIM October 16, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Sonia Prince, How many Unarmed People were killed by criminals between 2005 and 2010 ?
Mike black October 16, 2013 at 03:55 PM
Yup, the threat of pepper spray will always scare off an armed, crazed robber.
Brian Blackden October 16, 2013 at 04:12 PM
@Sonia, "but he could have easily taken on the robber with pepper spray or a fire extinguisher." Sonia there is quite a problem with spraying someone with anything but pepper spray. There are federal laws that people been prosecuted for by using items inconsistent with labeling (wasp spray, etc.) I would not advise people to do so as it may get the person who is spraying said item in legal trouble.
Sonia Prince October 16, 2013 at 07:40 PM
Dot, "responsible gun owners" are not required to take any classes. So tell me Dot, how do you know who is responsible, safe and who you can predict will have a good reaction without a test or any means to measure that ability? I would sure like to know how to "spot a responsible gun owner". Can't wait, you may solve all my problems and so many others.
Noelle Marie Pawelczyk October 16, 2013 at 08:55 PM
first of all u people suck. shannon aka bear was a customer of mine for almost 3 yrs when i worked at bickfords. such a sweet guy always polite and easy to talk too. he was also a comfort to see when i had to pick up something or put gas in my car at the shell. hes the kind of employee any employer should want. the fact that his company is so messed up that they dont care about his years of dedicated service and the way he saved the store and any other customer from what may have happend should count for something. all of you who do not know him or have never gone into that gas station at night should keep your mouths shut!
Noelle Marie Pawelczyk October 16, 2013 at 08:56 PM
sorry let me correct that previous post, most of you people suck.
Sonia Prince October 16, 2013 at 09:03 PM
Hmmm let's see Brian...would be a toss up I'm sure...do I use the spray to save my life, or do I worry about legal woes....seriously? I'm sure punching someone is against the law too but if someone was taking a swing, I'd swing back. You did give me a good chuckle though! LOL
Sonia Prince October 16, 2013 at 09:05 PM
Noelle, each business owner has a right to put policies in place. He did have a choice to quit and go work somewhere else. Do you purposely break the rules everywhere you work? As much as it's tough, he took a decision knowing it was against the rules. It's unfortunate, but a fact. I'm sure he's a great guy; but rules don't follow "who's a great guy" and who's not.
Dot Knightly October 17, 2013 at 06:05 AM
Sonia, that's a question YOU need to answer. You're the one ranting about "Responsible" gun owner's, not me. Stand Your Ground!
Cori Ryan October 17, 2013 at 12:51 PM
@Sonia, about the pepper spray. I just wanted to mention this to be helpful woman to woman. Others might find this useful as well. Please do not think of this as a criticism or argument. It is helpful to know if you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation. Pepper spray is great tool for a spray and run when already outside where you can escape and call the police. A lot of people do not know this, but it is not often a preferred 'indoor' choice because it can and likely will affect you as well. You do not want to also incapacitate yourself. Everyone has different thresholds of pain they can tolerate, but pepper spray is pretty awful and you do not want to also incapacitate yourself or put yourself at a disadvantage. You do not want to be down and then find out the bad guy has a friend waiting in the wings. That being said, if it is all I had I would probably use it, but it is not always the best tool in the tool box.
Sonia Prince October 17, 2013 at 01:46 PM
I understand Ryan what you are saying; but sprays are not legal in all states and most homes don't have one handy, fire extinguishers are available in most homes. Even if there is someone waiting in the wings, a person with a gun may miss or be shaky because they are scared and in a stressful situation. Your odds are best with an extinguisher....sprays far and wide, even if shaky, good odds you won't miss. I watched a show where they had a dozen criminals in jail being interviewed and they'd explain how easy it was to open any lock with a bump key, they also said they wouldn't pick a home with a dog, and that fire extinguishers would work better than guns because you can duck or miss.
Brian Blackden October 17, 2013 at 03:29 PM
Sonia, you are clearly not familiar with Sabre Red Home Defense. It sprays like a fire extingusher in pattern and will incapacitate whomever it comes in contact with, that is why the police and military use this particular product in 24 countries, unlike many other weaker untested or concentrated concoctions. I sincerely did not mean to make you laugh because I am very serious about my post. I am sorry you find it amusing. I hope your hand to hand combat comes in a winner if you are swung at. Most of us would like a 20-30 foot defense distance as taught at the police academy with the Tueller Drill. By the way spray is legal in all 50 states, albeit some have restrictions on canister size and combinations of ingredients such as chemical tear gas and oleoresin capsicum (pepper spray ingredient.)
Sonia Prince October 17, 2013 at 03:39 PM
Brian, thank you but again, I already own fire extinguishers, and unlike you, my home doesn't have a 20 foot distance in any area. I think my fire extinguisher will do just fine. Besides, most people who are "responsible gun owners" and have kids would have to lock up their guns, run to the place where it's hidden, do the lock...tick tock tick tock, not to mention possibly miss the assailant....fire extinguisher is near my sink, both entrances and in my basement....way handier than one gun.
Sonia Prince October 17, 2013 at 03:40 PM
I'm sure if you kill someone with a fire extinguisher, it should be the same as a gun and stand your ground.....doesn't everyone get away with murder under stand your ground since the dead person can't speak?
Mark Burdman October 18, 2013 at 04:03 AM
The clerk had a permit to carry a concealed weapon. He was protecting his life. Shell you are horse sh#t to treat this man this way. The gun scared off this Animal. The Clerk gets to go home to be with his woman and children.

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