East Coast Violent Crime

Store Clerk Fired After Hitting Alleged Robber with Baseball Bat

A North Carolina store clerk said she was fired after she attacked a burglar with a baseball bat on Tuesday, a move her employer said violated company policy.

Juwan Harris said a man entered the Circle K convenience store in Raleigh where she works, told her that he had a gun and robbed the store.

The suspect, later identified as 51-year-old William Winston, according to police, allegedly attempted to flee the scene, but Harris says she went after him with a baseball bat.

“I feared for my life. He held customers hostage and was pushing and harassing my customers — that was my thing,” Harris told ABC affiliate WTVD on Tuesday. “He could’ve come back and did it again.”

She says she hit the alleged robber in the head and held him until police arrived.

“I took the baseball bat and hit him in the back of the head. He fell, got back up and and when he got back up, I kept hitting him in the head with the bat,” Harris said.

Winston was taken to a local hospital in stable condition and released into police custody. Police said Winston took off with cigarettes and money, and faces charges of common law robbery.

Harris, who left the scene without physical harm, lost her job over the incident, but she said she stands by her decision.

“I was trying to protect myself, the customers and also the store,” Harris said. “To me, I did what I had to do. I felt what I did was right.”

Circle K did not return WTVD’s request for comment, but it’s not unusual for retailers to have such policies.

In July, Home Depot fired a 70-year-old employee at one of its Texas locations after he threw a paint roller extension at the feet of a suspected shoplifter in an attempt to stop him from making off with stolen goods, according to ABC affiliate KTRK.

The shoplifters fled the scene unharmed, but the employee, Jim Tinney, was fired as per company policy.

Stephen Holmes, a spokesman for Home Depot, told KTRK in July that the policy is in place for everyone’s safety.

“What I can tell you now is that we have a strict policy that only our trained security personnel can pursue and engage shoplifters,” Holmes said in a statement. “We’ve had deaths and serious injury over the years, and no amount of merchandise is more important than the safety of our associates and customers.”

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