A waitress at a Georgia Waffle House has been fired from her job after she discharged a pistol she retrieved from her car as her restaurant was being held up by three armed robbers.
Coweta County authorities are looking for three robbery suspects who threatened to shoot everyone inside of a Waffle House.
The robbery happened around 2:30 a.m. Thursday at the restaurant on Highway 29 in Newnan.
Deputies said the robbers gave a note to a waitress that threatened to shoot everyone unless she gave them money.
A different waitress, Heather Stanley, went to her car to get a gun and fired one shot into the air while the robbers ran to their cars. She said she fired in the air because she didn’t want to hit a nearby gas tank.
“She made it known she was ready to defend herself,” customer Ben McCoy said.
Stanley said she has since been fired from her job.
“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,” she said.
Stanley said she was only trying to protect the store and her co-workers and didn’t expect to be let go.
“For trying to protect their Waffle House and trying to protect their money and to get their money back, they let me go,” she said.
A Waffle House spokesperson told Channel 2’s Matt Johnson that they are aware of the situation, but cannot comment on personnel matters.
Stanley said she was just following her instinct and would do the same thing again.
“I know what I did. To myself I felt it was right and wouldn’t hesitate, I would do it again,” she said.
Bless her heart.
Ms. Stanley clearly thought she was doing the right thing. Her thought process was that she thought they may return, and so she armed herself and fired a warning shot to discourage their return.
Her decision wasn’t great from a tactical perspective (following bad guys out of a location rarely is) and her decision to fire a warning shot was a bad one (warning shots are illegal under most circumstances in most jurisdictions), but she clearly was trying to act in the best interests of Waffle House and it’s customers.
You’ll note that she was not armed at the beginning of the incident. Her handgun was locked in her car, and she had to retrieve the gun from her locked car in order to use it.
In many parts of the country, concealed carry laws allow citizens to store weapon in their locked vehicles while at work, so that they are not unarmed on the way to and from work. Georgia’s law, the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014, is worded in such a way as to still allow employers to bar employees from having guns on company property, at all, including employee parking lots.
I think Waffle House made a mistake in firing Ms. Stanley, especially from the public relations perspective. They’re giving the impression that they are soft on crime, and don’t care about the safety of their employees or customers.
That stated, Ms. Stanley clearly did not know the laws covering the use of force, and she fired a warning shot at men who had already completely their robbery and had managed to flee the property when she opened fire. This was illegal, and she could have been charged if the authorities were so inclined. (they apparently were not, and used their discretion). If Ms. Stanley had merely grabbed her gun and took cover behind her car, she’d possibly still be employed.
Don’t fire warning shot, folks, and never tip your hand that you’re armed until you must.