Shell Clerk With Gun Thwarts Robber, Loses Job

Bear Cothran knew the risks of carrying his registered firearm to work, his wife says.

Shell station, 301 Main St., Nashua.
Shell station, 301 Main St., Nashua.
The following story, about a weekend robbery at the Shell Station, 301 Main St., was told via Facebook, called to my attention late last night by a Nashua Patch reader who wrote:

"With the rash of recent armed robberies of convenience stors (sic) in the area, this needs to make the news."

I agree.

It is compelling enough to repost here as it was written by a Facebook user named Angel Darkenna, who urged others to share the story, so I am reposting here.

I will follow up with Nashua Police, clerk Bear Cothran – who according to this, lost his job for breaking company policy by carrying a weapon to work – and the company that owns the gas station, Nouria Energy.

Click here to read our interview with Bear Cothran
Originally Posted by Angel Darkenna:
"For those who haven't heard yet, last night someone attempted to rob the Shell station on Main Street in Nashua. A large man entered the station, quick-walked around the counter, drew a knife from his sleeve, and held it in a 'gutting' position, threatening the clerk. He told the clerk, whom we all know and love as Bear Cothran, to give him all the money in the register, or, and this is a direct quote, 'I will kill you.' Bear took three steps back, drew his legally concealed firearm, and aimed it at the robber. At this point, the robber thought better of the situation and fled the store. The police were contacted, but have been as yet unable to find the man. Bear was, thankfully, not injured during the incident.

At 11:20 this morning, Bear received a phone call from his boss, informing him that, in spite of his status as a 10-year employee in good standing and both the store and district managers going to bat for him, he was being terminated. Nouria Energy (http://www.nouriaenergy.com/), the franchise owner of the store (as well as the majority of the other Shell stations in the southern NH area), has a policy prohibiting employees from carrying weapons while on the clock. Bear was let go without any manner of severance for violating this policy.

Essentially, he protected the store's assets and his own well-being, in a manner in which no one was injured and no damage was done, and was fired for it.

Now, I support the right of Nouria Energy to choose to have such a policy. I think it's not a particularly good policy, given the business that they are in, but it's their right to make that decision. Just as it is my right to choose not to patronize their business ever again. If you agree with me, please join me in denying Nouria Energy your business.

EDIT: Nouria Energy Corp. is the franchise company that owns and operates this Shell station, and it was their policy that Bear broke. Nouria operates over 120 stations under the Shell and Lil Mart brands. It is these stations that I am asking you to avoid.http://www.nouriaenergy.com/store-locator.html

EDIT #2: From Lee J. Lavallee, Bear's lovely wife:
"FYI: In regards to Bear's termination over last night's situation. He knew the risks of breaking company policy. Bear and I talked about them several times over the past few years, and more so these past several months due to the explosion of armed robberies in the Nashua/Manchester area (and the stabbing/shooting of unarmed gas station attendants at some of these robberies, like the one in Hooksett). And every time we brought up the subject we BOTH agreed that his life was far more important than the job. He knew it, and he did it anyhow. And I support him 100 percent. Guess what gang, we are getting ready to have legal paperwork signed in 2 weeks. 2 Weeks. And I would much rather be a wife of an unemployed, ethical, loyal, hardworking man than to be a widow of someone who simply followed company policy."
Mark McMorrow October 16, 2013 at 08:00 AM
Here is what I e-mailed to the franchise owning company: I'm writing as regards the recent termination of one of your employees at the Main St. Nashua Shell station for exercising his right to self-defense. Due to your poorly developed policy that compromises the safety of your employees and customers, I will no longer be doing business with this or any of your establishments (but I would like to thank you for providing a handy store locator so that it's easier for me to know which establishments of yours to avoid).
down&out October 16, 2013 at 01:13 PM
Yes, yes he should have been fired. He knew the rules, he could have put customers at risk, and the made the store liable for millions if he accidentally shot a bystander or himself. Stopping a bad guy with a gun is the exception to the rule, most times it ends with loss of life.
Harry Ball October 16, 2013 at 01:33 PM
Firing someone for saving their own life is asinine.
Dot Knightly October 16, 2013 at 01:35 PM
He could be dead right now if he had followed the rules. For that matter, patron's could have been killed also. Without security in places of business, and the rash of robberies in Nashua, Bear was right. Rule or no rule! Today he is alive because he didn't follow this rule.
down&out October 16, 2013 at 02:01 PM
He brought a gun into his workplace which was against the rules. If he didn't like the rules, he didn't have to work there, but the employer has a right to his employees being unarmed.
Dot Knightly October 16, 2013 at 02:49 PM
And Employees have a right to Life!
DH October 16, 2013 at 07:30 PM
If the Shell distributor didn't have the no gun policy, he couldn't get insurance. If he didn't have insurance, he couldn't get a loan. If he couldn't get a loan, he couldn't buy the business. If he didn't buy the business, he could have never hired this cashier in the first place. It wouldn't matter if the owner was the president of the NRA himself, he has no choice but to have a no gun policy.
Terence Maguire October 16, 2013 at 09:22 PM
I think this man Bear will have no problems being offered a job now. But the Shell station and its owners are no doubt proud that they no longer have to worry about any clerk defending their store. As a matter of fact, it is now public knowledge for the criminal element (which seems to be growing in Nashua, as intimated in the article) that the Shell station is now gun-free, so it's easy pickings there! Bring a sack, kids, no one will stop you!
Sandy October 16, 2013 at 11:11 PM
Shell, your less one customer!
rick October 17, 2013 at 12:59 PM
Shell company needs to change it's stupid policy. Owner seems not to care about his employee's life. That just told the thief's to be free to rob any of his stores, and kill if they please. Wake up gun haters, it's your right, not the crooks right.
Trudy D'Armond October 17, 2013 at 01:35 PM
Well... now the crooks know this station will not be armed in the future. I guess that will put this station in the category of a "sitting duck" the next time someone needs cash for their "fix".
Bill Coppola October 17, 2013 at 03:46 PM
Taking away our rights one example at a time. And trudy is right.
Laura Russo D'Ademo October 17, 2013 at 03:56 PM
Trudy, not only this station, but all the stations that Nouria Energy Corp. owns, which I believe they reported as over 120.
Dan October 17, 2013 at 04:50 PM
This I find outrageous. While there is an issue, whether this person can shoot straight (which in a flash situation like that no one can say they are Annie Oakley), where a customer could get injured there is something to be said, but to fire this person, there is NO reason for that to happen. When a store in Nashua has an aluminum bat at the ready, I don't think this guy did any thing wrong in the situation, otherwise the cops would have arrested the guy. Firing a guy protecting your business, is DOWNRIGHT STUPID, and I will think twice about purchasing at any Shell Mart ever again.
Lynn Everhart October 17, 2013 at 06:00 PM
I will not use Shell, I never used them before and after this I know they are still out of my future
Jay Levan October 18, 2013 at 08:24 AM
Maybe I'm the only one missing something here. What so wrong with giving the robber the money and staying alive? That is the company policy. Give them the money. We value your life. You may not have a gun at work. We don't want you to be a hero. We want you to follow one simple rule - Give them the money it's nothing compared to the drama that comes from violence. That's their policy and he, as an employee was well informed of that policy. I don't get the "hero" dynamic in ignoring that rule. Bringing a gun is simply pissing on the company rules and is only about his ego and not about protection or justice or gun rights. If he didn't like the rule he should have found other work. Give the robber the money. The insurance covers it, he still has his job, he didn't break any rules - win-win-win.
Scott Prevett October 18, 2013 at 07:27 PM
What you're missing Jay is that giving the robber the money guarantees nothing. You see, people like that don't need to make sense. The fact is that sometimes after they get the money, they kill the clerk anyway. There's one way to prevent it... and that's to carry a gun.
Jeffery Goldblum October 18, 2013 at 08:38 PM
Just curious, is anyone that's boycotting Shell because of this actually going to make the effort to find out what other companies have similar policies and boycott those too?
Greg Kane October 19, 2013 at 11:09 AM
Join the boycott!! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Boycott-Nashua-ShellNouris-Energy/167987356743492
TheOldGuy October 20, 2013 at 09:18 AM
@Jay Levan; It's that very method of thinking that is the problem here. Just give the bad guys what they want and they will go away. Sit idly by and be the victim. It's the whole reason why "bad guys" do what they do. They anticipate their victims being unarmed, defenseless and just lying down; Easy Money. Turn the tide on them and they get nothing. They also get that nagging feeling in the back of their mind that the next time they won't be so lucky.
Glenn October 20, 2013 at 12:24 PM
Then there is this scenario......robber pulls knife. clerk pulls gun and fires at robber missing him and killing the pregnant mother of three and a German Sheppard in the adjacent parking lot. Sorry I don't care to shop where the clerks have a gun. Yeah (sarcasm) I want that guy behind the counter making life and death decisions on the fly when he can barely count out my change or bag my purchase not to mention his place in life more than likely dictates some of his poor life choices. I mean seriously folks think it through.
Glenn October 20, 2013 at 12:30 PM
@ Trudy very few businesses DON'T have this policy. Common sense actually even if it alludes some of you. Yeah let's arm that McDonald's clerk with a Glock! I want my Denny's waitress carrying an AK-47.
Glenn October 20, 2013 at 12:31 PM
If the criminal knows the clerk is armed won't he more than likely shoot said clerk at first opportunity when said clerk isn't looking. No warning just BANG! What about that?
Jim U Lacrum October 22, 2013 at 11:57 AM
So, to summarize Glenn's position: 1. The fact of being a store clerk means that you are not only stupid, but that you cannot aim and control a firearm well enough to hit a robber directly in front of you. A couple clerks messed up your change once or twice, and now they're all morons? 2. A store clerk with years of firearms experience choosing of his own volition to carry a compact .380 is equivalent to fast-food places actively arming their employees with pistols and powerful rifles. 3. The average armed robber is not actually a desperate coward, an advanced version of a thief, but is a bloodthirsty killer, eager to commit first-degree murder rather than find an easier way to make money. (And what about "life choices," Glenn? How do you justify giving an armed robber—likely an job-less, skill-less drug addict—more credit than a gainfully employed person?)
Jim U Lacrum October 22, 2013 at 12:03 PM
Allowing employees to carry weapons at work changes the clerk-robber dynamic. As it is, robbers KNOW that store clerks will be unarmed. They KNOW that the company policy almost everywhere is to just give up the money without a fight. It makes for an awfully soft target. You'll notice that gun shops, armored cars, and other places with armed personnel don't run into many robbery attempts, and far fewer successful attempts. Robbers want to get in and get out with the money quickly, and without hassles. The possibility—not even certainty, just possibility—of running into an armed person adds an unacceptable risk. Now the robber has to risk his life to get that cash, and he's much less likely to try. And if he does try anyway, and he gets shot? Is that such a bad thing? One less violent criminal on the streets.
Glenn October 22, 2013 at 01:34 PM
@Jim U Lacrum; Having spent some time in the merchandising business I can say the 'majority' of convenience stores/ gas station clerks were not people that I would want pulling a gun out to use in public. NOT ALL Jim but a definite majority. Not saying they are bad people just that they shouldn't be packing a gun at work. You said "You'll notice that gun shops, armored cars, and other places with armed personnel don't run into many robbery attempts" So put armed guards in the stores. Note that gun shops and armored cars aren't doing business late a night. Open a gun shop 24 hours in a crappy neighborhood and see what happens.
Glenn October 22, 2013 at 01:43 PM
@Jim U Lacrum; The other group of clerks I got to know were young kids, many of them teens. Many of them students. I also would not want them pulling out guns either.
Jim U Lacrum October 22, 2013 at 02:00 PM
If we're going to bother with background, I have worked late-night shifts at gas stations, I have been robbed by armed criminals on two occasions, and though I no longer do that job, I carry a pistol regularly. I have little to no concern about ever shooting someone by accident because I'm not a reckless idiot. Internalizing safe handling procedures is a basic first step to owning a firearm, even if you never carry it. It doesn't matter what you want or don't want. You're not the person being attacked by an armed criminal. You are not the one whose life is under threat. Moreover, stores could (and certainly would) exercise some control over who carries a weapon at work. It wouldn't be just anyone. Some training would have to be required, eliminating most of this risk you fear. I also think it would be good to put armed guards in certain stores at certain times. But if you're going to do that, why bother to hire a separate person to do that job? Why not have the guard also run the store? By the way, minors are not legally allowed to carry guns anyway, so that's not really germane to this discussion.
Glenn October 23, 2013 at 10:11 AM
Ahh yes, 7-11 stop and go stores will certainly jump on board to train their minimum wage clerks to carry firearms. Also Jim when clerks carry firearms the criminals will step up their game, right? In this case if the guy had had a gun instead off the knife what good would a concealed weapon have done. I am aiming my gun at you go ahead and draw on me. And hate to burst your bubble, I still don't want low paying , non-skilled workers carry weapons. Why are these people working late shift minimum wage jobs? Student, elderly but most are uneducated unmotivated people that I don't want tossing lead through the air at their first fright. If freaking guns made the world safe Jim then by count the USA would be the safest crime free country in the world.
Kristen October 23, 2013 at 10:17 AM
@glenn you are so wrong and so judge mental it's rediculous my husband works third shift at this store and he is very well educated he had no choice but to take this job when the company he used to work for went out of business so when you say these terrible things about honest hard working Americans it's very rude!! You don't judge a book by its cover so unless you know the facts keep your mouth shut!!


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