Company Defends Firing N.H. Worker

Nashua — A Massachusetts company is standing by its decision to fire an employee who defended himself with a handgun during a robbery attempt at a gas station in Nashua this week.

The employee, Shannon “Bear” Cothran, was alone inside a Shell gas station at 301 Main St. in Nashua when a man brandishing a knife entered and demanded money around 3 a.m. Monday. Cothran pulled a concealed handgun from his pocket, sending the robber fleeing.

Although the robbery attempt was thwarted, Cothran was fired a few hours later by the owner of the gas station, Nouria Energy. Cothran said he was terminated because employees are prohibited from carrying guns.

After staying silent on the issue Tuesday, Nouria Energy, headquartered in Worcester, Mass., issued the following statement through a public relations firm in Boston late Wednesday morning:

“At Nouria Energy, our employees are our most cherished assets. Their safety and the safety of our customers is priority number one. It is with that goal in mind that we do not allow firearms in the workplace,” the statement read. “We specifically train our employees on how to react during a robbery attempt to prevent the situation from escalating. Cashiers are instructed to give the intruder what they ask for in an attempt to resolve the conflict peacefully and as soon as possible.

“Make no mistake: We care about the personal well-being of employees like Mr. Cothran, whose years of service are truly appreciated — not about the money in the cash register,” the statement continued. “So, we are especially grateful that this situation was resolved without injury.

“We do respect the constitutional right to bear arms. However, we believe the best way to keep our employees and customers safe is to prohibit weapons in the workplace. Our training and policies are aligned with what is customary in the retail/conveniences store industries and is consistent with advice offered by security and police organizations.”

Cothran, 29, was employed at Nouria Energy’s gas stations in Nashua for 10 years. He had just finished helping another customer Monday 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 told The Telegraph. “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.”

After the incident, Cothran was asked to file a report with his employer. He said the store manager and a district manager lobbied to save his job, but Cothran was terminated by executives only a few hours later.