Guns and Gear

Store Opposes Self-Defense, Suspends Armed Store Clerk

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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A Vermont store clerk has been suspended from his job after he drew a gun in self-defense during a robbery.

Don Pitaniello, a 58 year-old Vietnam veteran from Rutland, was closing up shop at Mac’s Convenience Store on Sunday when a man wearing a hoodie and a bandana over his face stormed in wielding a 5-inch knife, the Rutland Herald reports.

“He walked up to the counter, laid the knife on it and said ‘Empty the register,'” Pitaniello told the paper.

“I knew his intentions as soon as he came in,” Pitaniello said. “When he told me to empty the register, I cocked my head and said ‘Really?'”

But Pitaniello had something ready for the man – a .380-caliber handgun hidden behind his back.

The man picked the knife up and waved it in Pitaniello’s face.

Pitaniello replied with words and a pointed gun.

“I told him he better get the (expletive) out of there,” he said.

The would-be robber listened and left.

Though Pitaniello may have saved his own life, he may have lost his job. The Rutland Herald reported that Pitaniello was suspended on Monday.

The store has a policy against bringing firearms to work, he was told. He broke another store rule by following the robber.

The Daily Caller phoned the store on Wednesday. The clerk on duty said that she had not seen Pitaniello since the incident.

Regardless of his employment status, Pitaniello said he had no regrets.

“That store has been robbed eight or nine times and I always work nights,” he told the Rutland Herald.

“I’m a firm believer in having a gun and not needing it rather than the other way around. I can always find a new job.”

The attempted robbery represents the second time in a week that an assailant armed with a knife has demanded money from convenience store clerks in Rutland.

A similar incident occurred last Thursday when a man wearing a bandana demanded money from a clerk at another convenience store. That clerk did not have a gun, and the culprit left with an undisclosed amount of money.

Police have not determined if the two incidents are related.


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