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Man Thwarts Robbery, Gets Fired

Staff photo by Don Himsel
Shannon Cothran pulled his .380 Ruger handgun on a man attempting to rob the Nashua gas station where he worked. The alleged robber fled and Cothran lost his job.

Staff photo by Don Himsel Shannon Cothran pulled his .380 Ruger handgun on a man attempting to rob the Nashua gas station where he worked. The alleged robber fled and Cothran lost his job.

Nashua — When Shannon “Bear” Cothran was threatened by a knife-wielding robber on Monday morning, he didn’t think twice about what to do.

Cothran, who was working after midnight at the Shell gas station at 301 Main St. in Nashua, pulled out his Ruger LCP 380 handgun.

The robber turned around and walked out the door, and Cothran called the police, bringing a swift end to the robbery attempt.

Cothran believes his decision to carry a firearm might have saved his life Monday morning. But the owners of the gas station took a different view.

Cothran says he was fired only a few hours later for violating a company policy that forbids store clerks from carrying guns.

Now out of a job, Cothran said he feels the company policy is irresponsible, but with a grandson on the way, he stands by his decision to carry a firearm for protection.

“I can find another job,” he said. “A paycheck’s a paycheck. I don’t really care where it comes from. I cannot justify in my mind trying to save my job at the risk of not ever seeing my family and friends again.”

After the incident, Cothran was asked to file a report with his employer, Nouria Energy, which owns and operates the gas station. He said the store manager and a district manager lobbied to save his job, but Cothran was terminated only a few hours later.

Multiple calls and emails to Nouria Energy were not returned Tuesday. Attempts to reach officials at oil-giant Shell also were unsuccessful.

Nashua police are still searching for the man involved in the Monday morning robbery. The suspect was caught on surveillance video entering the gas station at around 3 a.m.

Police confirmed the man approached the clerk and brandished a knife, but fled moments later when the clerk produced a firearm.

Cothran, 29, said he had just finished helping another customer when the would-be robber entered the store, walked behind the counter and threatened his life.

“He had the knife cocked back. It looked like he was going to stab me,” Cothran said. “I took several steps back, produced my sidearm, and informed him it was a bad idea, and he didn’t want to do it, and he left.”

Nashua police are asking the public for help identifying the man, who was described as a white or Hispanic male, between 6 feet and 6 feet, 2 inches tall, with a medium build.

Police are circulating an image of the suspect. They also recovered a piece of evidence — a black-and-gray Coleman jacket with a red collar, which the suspect discarded while he was running from the scene.

Authorities in Nashua and Manchester have been combatting a surge in armed robberies this summer. In the Gate City alone, Cumberland Farms, Jeannotte’s Market, the Subway restaurant on Main Street and 7-Eleven have been among the targets.

Cothran, a New Hampshire native, has never shied away from dangerous occupations. He previously worked as a bouncer, and has been employed at Nouria Energy’s convenience stores for 10 years, starting at the Shell station on Main Dunstable Road, then moving to the Shell station on Main Street.

Nashua police Lt. Denis Linehan said there are pros and cons when employees who might be the victims of crime choose to arm themselves. If a robber is also carrying a firearm, the situation can potentially escalate into a shooting.

In the case of Monday morning’s robbery, Linehan said it appears the clerk took appropriate action when he was threatened. He said police encourage anyone who carries a firearm to undergo safety training.

“The first thing that we want to make sure is that people are safe,” he said. “In this situation, the clerk was presented with a deadly weapon. He was in close proximity to the suspect when the deadly weapon was displayed to him. The clerk, from the information I have, took the appropriate action in terms of how he felt threatened, in presenting the firearm.”

Now unemployed, Cothran isn’t sure where his job search will begin. He’s contemplating going into business with friends.