A firing after a firing: A Georgia Waffle House waitress was reportedly fired from her job late last week for firing one shot over the heads of a trio of fleeing robbers.
The incident that is starting to receive national attention occurred in the early hours of Thursday morning at the 24/7 eatery on Highway 29 in the city of Newnan, which experienced its third Waffle House holdup in the past few months.
After finishing up their meal, the male suspects allegedly handed a note to a waitress demanding money from the cash register or they would shoot everyone in the place.
That’s when another waitress, identified in multiple media accounts as Heather Burkinshaw-Stanley, went out to her car to retrieve her 9 mm handgun. As they were heading to their car to flee with $200, she followed them out and fired one round over their heads. Waffle House reportedly terminated Burkinshaw-Stanley, a mother of three whose husband is disabled, the next day by telephone. She had been on the job for about two years.
The waitress whose nickname is Shorty told the Newnan Times-Herald that “I wasn’t sure if they were coming back or not. I was in fear for my life, my co-workers’ lives, and I did what I thought was right.”
“I didn’t know if they had guns. I didn’t know if they were going to their vehicle to get another one and could come back and try to get to the safe, so my instinct was to go to my car and get the gun…For trying to protect their Waffle House and trying to protect their money and to get their money back, they let me go,” Heather Burkinshaw-Stanley added about the incident, according Atlanta’s WSB-TV.
There were no injuries in the incident.
The ex-Waffle House waitress also expressed her belief that she did the right thing and that she would have no hesitation to take the same action again if similar circumstances presented themselves.
The suspects are apparently still at large.
The Waffle House has a no-weapons policy in effect at all of its restaurants, which apparently is the reason for the waitress’s dismissal. Upon being contacted by the media, a corporate spokesman made no official comment given that it was a personnel matter.
Founded in 1955 in the Atlanta area, and still headquartered there, the Waffle House always-open breakfast chain and purported cultural icon has about 2,000 locations in 25 states, with a primary focus on the south. The Waffle House, including its often earthy or raucous, but usually friendly, atmosphere, is a guilty pleasure for fans from all walks of life.
On New Year’s Eve, Heather Burkinshaw-Stanley launched a GoFundMe page that has already well exceeded its money-raising goal. On the page, she wrote this, in part, about what happened.
“I ran to my car and retrieved my gun. I safely fired a round in the air in an attempt to scare the robbers who were in the process of getting in their vehicle. My shot must have gotten their attention as they rapidly drove off. Due to this action of firing a round safely in the air I have lost my job…. Being the sole income, short term assistance would be welcomed to help make ends meet until I can secure another job…”
The pro-gun Bearing Arms website claimed that firing a warning shot is usually illegal in most jurisdictions and that following the suspects out of the restaurant was an ill-advised tactical decision, “but she clearly was trying to act in the best interests of Waffle House and it’s customers.”
It remains to be seen if Waffle House will rehire the waitress who fired the warning shot given the national publicity this incident is generating
[Featured Image by Ric Feld/AP Images]