— -- A convenience store clerk’s choice to save his life have cost him his job.
Don Pitaniello, 58, said he was preparing to close Mac’s Convenience Store in Rutland, Vermont, on Sunday when a man wearing a hoodie and a bandanna covering his face walked into the store and demanded Pitaniello empty the register.
“I looked up when I heard the doorbell rang and saw the hoodie, the bandana and a bag in his hand,” Pitaniello told the ABC News.
“I knew his intentions as soon as he came in,” Pitaniello said.
Pitaniello was going to comply, he said, but then the intruder laid his knife on the counter.
"That was when I felt that the incident turned from a robbery into an assault," Pitaniello said.
The Vietnam veteran reached for his gun, a .380-caliber handgun that he had carried all his life, and scared off the would-be robber.
After the masked man took off, Pitaniello called 911.
Although Pitaniello's act may have saved his life, it apparently cost him his night job. He was suspended on Monday for violating the store policy against bringing firearms to work.
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This Wednesday, the company called Pitaniello in.
"I waited for 30 minutes," Pitaniello said. "Then a lawyer came in and belittled and scolded me for 20 minutes."
"I decided that I shouldn't stay in a company like that," Pitaniello said.
“I am a firm believer in having a gun and not needing it rather than the other way around. I can always find a new job," Pitaniello said, noting that he already had another job during the day.
“That store has been robbed quite a few times,” said Detective Sgt. James Tarbell of the Rutland Police Department.
Tarbell said the store is an easy target for robbers because it is located on the outskirts of the city.
“It is far away from foot traffic, and it is very easy to get in and get out of the store,” Tarbell said.
“In previous cases, the clerks just complied,” Tarbell added. “That is the best and safest thing to do, because it is not worth risking your life.”
The spokesperson at Sherman V. Allen Inc., which apparently owns Mac's Market, could not be reached for comment.