Don Pitaniello was working a second job as a convenience store clerk to help pay for his ailing wife’s medical expenses, but now he says he could have lost his life Sunday night — if not for the gun he always carries with him.
Instead, he lost his job. The Mac’s convenience store in Rutland, Vermont, has a policy against bringing guns to work, as well as rules against employees trying to stop robberies on their own, which can be extremely dangerous. After Pitaniello, a Vietnam-era military veteran who is now 58 years old, pulled his.380 Smith and Wesson Bodyguard on a knife-wielding masked man who demanded money Sunday night, the store suspended the man from his moonlighting job.
A spokesperson for the convenience store chain told Vermon TV station WCAX that the company’s policies are industry standard in the convenience store business.
Pitaniello says he gets that.
“I’m not gonna argue or debate it, I understand policy,” said Pitaniello, who voluntarily quit the job after being suspended rather than return to work without his gun.
“I’m a firm believer in having a gun and not needing it rather than the other way around,” Pitaniello said. “I can always find a new job.”
Police say that surveillance tape has not been released because it is evidence in the case, and the would-be robber remains at large, so Pitaniello’s version of he events on Sunday is the only one out there at present.
He says that he was behind the counter at the 145 North Main Street Mac’s around 9:30 pm when a man whose face was obscured by a hoodie and a bandana entered the store carrying a knife.
“I looked up when I heard the doorbell chimes and saw the hoodie, the bandana, and a bag in his hand. He walked up to the counter, laid the knife on it and said ‘Empty the register,’” Pitaniello recounted.
“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?’”
Pitaniello had his gun at the ready. He leveled it at the robber’s head and told the intruder to “get the f*** out.”
The unidentified man complied without saying a word. Pitaniello followed him into the street to make sure that the bad guy did not attempt to re-enter the store, then he called police.
Though Pitaniello says he always carries his gun and always has, he believed the sidearm was especially needed in his after-hours job.
“That store has been robbed eight or nine times and I always work nights,” he said.
Pitaniello, who says that he doesn’t regret his actions and would do the same thing again, also says that he offered to take a training course and serve as an armed guard at Mac’s, but his employer turned him down.
[Image: WCAX Screen Capture]